BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – A project to put new playgrounds in at Pollmiller Park in West Point, got a shot in the arm Tuesday night.
The Lee County Conservation Board agreed to match half of the estimated $100,000 project with a unanimous vote at the board’s regular meeting at Heron Bend.
The money will come from the conservation trust fund and not the board’s general fund.
The project is part of the Places to Play project by the Three Rivers Conservation Foundation. Emily Benjamin, a director on the foundation board, said the project is ultimately aimed at three county parks.
“We’d like to redo the playgrounds at Pollmiller, followed by Wilson Lake and then Chatfield as they could all use some renovation and update,” Benjamin told the board.
She said some background work has been done to determine a budget for each of the playgrounds.
“We’ve settled on a projected budget of about $100,000 to $125,000 per playground.
Benjamin said the foundation has done several fundraisers including a summer event at Pollmiller, and chicken dinner fundraiser. A mailer is planned for later this week.
She said the next step is to select a design and then go out and solicit business donations, primarily focusing on the city or area impacted most by the park improvements.
“In the case of Pollmiller, we’ll be going out to West Point and West Point area businesses for those donations.”
The foundation has already put some seed money into the Places to Play fund from an account it was closing out, Benjamin said.
“What we’d really like from the board is maybe some matching dollars so that we can tell businesses as we solicit their donations that Lee County Conservation Board is willing to kick in x amount if we can raise the rest of it,” she said.
Benjamin said the account for the playground has about $9,000 in it currently.
Nathan Unsworth said the Pollmiller project was set to be completed in 2020, according to the foundation’s timeline.
He said the money will come out of the capital trust fund next year, unless the foundation did something “gangbuster” this year that raised the money. He said the capital trust fund has about $200,000 in it.
The foundation will be sending out letters this week to potential donors to inform businesses of what the project looks like.
“We’ve had some conversations and some of the businesses the foundation has talked to have wanted to see some other people go first, I think,” Unsworth said. “So it’s kind of like we need that one person to step up to the plate.”
He said the letters going out could help initiate some action.
Benjamin said she wants to have a complete plan when the foundation goes back to area businesses. Initial conversations were just an ask “to donate to the dream”.
She said some other ways of donations would be an online donation option as well as a check box on any camping registrations so those people could donate on top of the fees.
“The campers are really pushing to see a playground at Pollmiller,” she said.
In other action, the board:
• approved several farm lease agreements on Denning Conservation Area, Turkey Run Wildlife Area, and Red Wing, however the Red Wing access lease approval may be revisited.
• approved an application for a grant for a fish habitat project near the North Heron Bend where shoreline reconstruction and stabilization would be done. Unsworth said a platform would be built out into the water, similar to Pollmiller, which has been popular for fishing. But he said the work would be for habitat and spawning primarily. He said the grant would provide 90% of the cost with a 10% match from the board.