Aug 10, 2021
Residents of the Upper Cottonwood have been requesting a neighborhood park for years. The park and rec commission toured the area to view land for sale that could serve as a neighborhood park.
NEW ULM — The New Ulm Park and Recreation Commission took a particular tour of New Ulm’s park system.
A park system tour is an annual event for the commission. This year the tour focus was on park sites that were due for development. Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz drove the commissioners to the various sites around the city to explain what was planned or what could be planned for the park system.
The tour began with Hans Joohs Park next to the community center. The park is considered a neighborhood park but has no shelter. Maintenance to the park’s basketball court is planned for the next year. A shade structure or open shelter is also an option.
Next, the commission passed by North Park. The park will receive a new shelter courtesy of the Lion’s Club within the next year. The yard game circuit at North Park is being expanded. The plan is to add gaga ball, bocce ball and possibly croquet.
The Trap and Skeet Range has seen recent improvements. Sport shooting has become popular. All three high schools in New Ulm have sport shooting teams. This led to the creation of new high-low houses at the shooting range. A wood park building at the park has degraded. The plan is to replace it in the future with a concrete structure. It could be used by the shooting club, New Ulm battery, or even the compost site.
Land adjacent to Maplewood Drive is available for potential park development. The park and rec commission toured the Maplewood neighborhood. New road construction will make the section of town more accessible.
Schmitz said private money would likely be needed to fund this improvement.
The city owns land on North Broadway, but the only space designated a park is the Pollinator Park. Land is still available in this area for further neighborhood park development. Currently, there is no neighborhood park to serve Traulich Estates or the Huffman Addition.
The tour traveled to Lakeside Village. Several new homes and apartments were created in the last few years. The city does have parkland near, called Lakeside Park.
Schmitz said the land was undeveloped, but it might also be too small to serve a neighborhood the size of Lakeside Village.
Another undeveloped park area was Maplewood, located off Maplewood Drive. Currently, Maplewood Drive has two sections that are not connected, but the construction of the road is planned. When completed, Maplewood Drive will connect North Garden to Highland Avenue.
Several new homes in this section and around the New Ulm High School have no neighborhood park.
Pfaender Park is part of Milford Heights and remains undeveloped. It is located across the 5th North from Highland Park. This is the only place in New Ulm with two separate parks adjacent to each other.
Schmitz said he advocated the two parks be planned as a single park unit separated by the road. A mid-block crossing could be installed on the road between the parks.
Highland Park is also adjacent to Martin Luther College (MLC). MLC is currently building a new fieldhouse near this location.
The commissioners traveled to Nehls Park, which is developed but needs a shelter. Schmitz said the Public Utilities Commission would help fund shelter or restroom facilities from a utility standpoint, but the cost for a shelter is still high. Schmitz hopes to have a shelter in Nehls Park within the next decade.
South Park is also in need of shelter. Schmitz said the shelter could be located near the playground and softball field.
Upper Cottonwood currently has no neighborhood park. It is the section of town furthermost from a neighborhood park with South Park being the closest. However, if the Cottonwood River floods the distance to the nearest park increases by several miles. Residents of Cottonwood Street have been requesting a neighborhood park for years. Potential land for a park is available adjacent to the Settlers’ Trail.
The parks tour ended with a drive through South Goosetown and South Market. No neighborhood park serves this community.
There is potential space near the former Putting Green site. There is potential to create a trailhead at this location. The trail could follow the berm along the Minnesota River and connects to South 13th and Front Street.
South Market Park is considered a wilderness park and is adjacent to the bike trail. The park could be developed into a neighborhood park, but Schmitz said there were challenges with this land. In addition to being forested land, it has significant elevation changes and moisture in the hillsides.
At the end of the tour, Commissioner Bob Skillings asked if the budget had any money for a neighborhood park.
Schmitz said it is possible, depending on the city’s decision on Upper Cottonwood. Potential DNR grant money is available for the development of this park.
Schmitz told the commissioners to stayed tuned for future developments and discussions on these parks.
The commission awarded the German Park Amphitheater Shade Structure project to Ebert Construction for $285,754.23, pending a review from Bolton & Menk Inc.
Ebert Construction had the only bid for the project, but it came under the engineer’s estimate.
The State of Minnesota agreed to reimburse the city up to $300,000 as part of the recent bonding bill. The construction deadline for the shade structure is 2022.
The shade structure is the second phase of the amphitheater project. The third phase will be upgraded to stage areas and bandstand.
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