The city of Brainerd plans to move forward with the construction of a Region Five Children’s Museum in Lum Park and signed a letter of intent to do so.

City Administrator Jennifer Bergman put the letter before council members Monday, March 16, outlining the roles of both the city and Region Five in the project moving forward.

Last fall, the council earmarked $20,000 in the 2020 parks and recreation budget for the master plan for the museum, which is proposed to be a 25,000-square-foot facility with hands-on exhibits for an interactive indoor/outdoor learning experience.

Region Five will pay the remainder of the $37,000 for a master plan from Widseth Smith Nolting.

Also outlined in the letter of intent is the establishment of a task force and a working group. The task force will be involved in the master planning process and will include: two city council members, one Brainerd Economic Development Authority member, one planning commission member, one park board member, three Region Five Children’s Museum members and three Brainerd residents.

Renderings from the Minnesota Legislature website provide designs for the proposed Region Five Children's Museum.
Renderings from the Minnesota Legislature website provide designs for the proposed Region Five Children's Museum.

The working group will meet with WSN as necessary in between task force meetings to provide more detailed direction and help steer the overall planning process. The working group will report back to the task force and will consist of: a representative from WSN, Bergman, city staff determined by the council, Project Director Peter Olson and museum design consultant Jim Rowe.

Ideally, the task force and working group would each meet monthly throughout the year.

Region Five will also create and coordinate two focus groups — one with area stakeholders and one with other Brainerd residents — to gather input in the planning process.

Lastly, the letter of intent directs Region Five to schedule and undertake at least five community engagement sessions in Brainerd to both provide information to the public about the museum and receive feedback on the proposal. Region Five will cover the cost of these sessions, up to $6,000. Bergman said 20 community engagement sessions will happen throughout the five-county area, but at least five of them will be in Brainerd.

With various other details to work out, Bergman said the letter of intent is not an agreement but merely an expression of the city’s intent to move forward with the project.

Next, the council approved WSN’s proposal for the master planning process, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.