by Dennis Dalman
It’s hard to believe that with 29 parks, Sartell has never had a parks department or parks supervisor. But that may change soon.
In the near future, Sartell plans to hire a parks supervisor and create a parks department that would be a close partnership between the city and the school district.
The Sartell Planning Commission recommended those steps to the city council recently, and Sartell City Administrator Anna Gruber outlined the plans at the Aug. 23 council meeting.
In past years, parks’ management and maintenance was done by volunteers, neighborhood associations, athletic groups and the Sartell Public Works Department.
The Sartell Parks Department would involve the city, the school district and the district’s Community Education Program, which now helps manage and staff the Sartell Community Center. A Joint Parks Department Board would be comprised of two city-council members, two school-board members and two at-large community members. Once agreements are in place, the new department could fully function sometime in 2023.
Gruber said Sartell staff has studied the park departments in Hutchinson and Marshall, both renowned statewide as model cities for their successes.
What a Sartell Parks Department would accomplish, Gruber noted, are the following: streamlining to eliminate duplications and needless competition, ways to save taxpayer’s money by introducing all kinds of efficiencies in parks and programming.
Council member Alex Lewandowski praised background work done by city administrator Gruber and Mayor Ryan Fitzthum for making the park-department/supervisor concepts possible.
“It’s a good idea,” said council member Jeff Kolb. “A great opportunity.”
Tim Elness also praised the plan.
“We can share lots of amenities with the schools, and we can combine community events with schools too,” he said. “I think it’s great.”