by Dennis Dalman
An outdoor patio concert stage just might become a reality at the Sartell Community Center in the not-too-distant future.
At its last meeting, the Sartell City Council voted 4-1 to authorize Miller Architects and Builders of St. Cloud to come up with designs and fine-tuned costs for such a project. Miller has worked with the city of Sartell on many parks-related projects throughout the years.
Council member David Peterson voted against the motion because he said there are other possible community-center amenities the council has yet to discuss, such as, the creation of outdoor pickleball courts, a skateboard park, outdoor basketball courts where kids could play free or birdhouse stations along the walking trails near the center. Peterson said the council was rushing into the patio-stage decision without considering other options, adding that the park commission should have some input as to amenities.
In response to Peterson’s comments, Sartell Mayor Sarah Jane Nicoll said that an outdoor stage – an amphitheater – had long been discussed as a priority amenity for the community center and was actually part of the long-term planning process for the center.
Before the council discussion, the patio concert stage concept was presented to the council by Mark Bragelman of Liberty Bank. That business has contributed for years to fun events in Sartell, most notably its Libertyville family-fun day during Sartell SummerFest weekends. At the last one, Libertyville took place on the grounds of the community center on the very place proposed for a concrete patio concert stage – the sloping ground leading from the south side of the center to the shore of Lake Francis, the large holding pond in that area.
Liberty Bank began sponsoring musical festivals as far back as 30 years ago, starting with a venue at St. Cloud’s Whitney Center. It has sponsored the Libertyville celebration in Sartell for the past six years.
Bragelman noted music is always a vital component of festivals. A concrete patio, a form of amphitheater, could be a multi-use amenity not just for musical performances but also for plays, speakers or other kinds of activities or cultural presentations.
The facility would serve as a stage and a patio, said Sartell Financial Director/Administrator Mary Degiovanni.
The cost of the contract with Miller will be about $5,000, Degiovanni noted. The actual project cost is estimated at less than $200,000. Funding in the Community Center Capital Project Fund could pay for the project. There is currently $267,000 in that fund, Degiovanni told the council. In addition, the city also currently has $135,000 in its Park District I Fund. That or part of that could also be used if the council wishes to keep more funds in the capital-project fund, she added.
The city’s engineering firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. would serve as civil engineer for the project, with Miller serving as construction manager.
Two council members – Mayor Nicoll and Ryan Fitzthum – volunteered to be in on Miller’s design-planning process for the patio stage.