Survey on Coon Rapids parks referendum starts

A community residential survey began this week in the city of Coon Rapids.

 Riverview Park is one of the parks that would be redeveloped if a park bond referendum is placed on the November election ballot and is passed by voters. Photo courtesy of city of Coon Rapids

Riverview Park is one of the parks that would be redeveloped if a park bond referendum is placed on the November election ballot and is passed by voters. Photo courtesy of city of Coon Rapids

The Coon Rapids City Council Tuesday approved a $13,500 contract with Decision Resources, Ltd., to conduct the survey.

The main purpose of the survey is to gauge community support for a park bond referendum that the council is proposing to place on the November general election.

The council has identified a bond referendum amount, $21.5 million, and a series of projects that would be constructed if voters approved a park bond issue.

But before making a final decision on whether to hold the referendum at the Nov. 5 election, the council wants to “understand the needs of the community and ultimately, the potential success of a park bond referendum,” according to Matt Stemwedel, assistant city manager.

According to Stemwedel, the statistically valid survey will comprise telephone interviews of 400 randomly selected Coon Rapids residents.

In general, random samples, such as this, will produce results that are accurate within plus or minus 5 percent in 95 out of 100 cases, Stemwedel wrote in a report to the council.

Decision Resources Ltd., which has conducted community surveys for the city in the past, including last year, began the survey late this week.

That’s because of a tight timeline – the findings will be presented to the council in April – and the fact that Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 has no school next week because of spring break, according to Stemwedel.

And the council wants to make a final decision in early May on whether to go ahead with a park bond referendum.

The survey has 62 questions, several of them of a general nature, but many specifically focused on the park bond referendum, Stemwedel said.

“It will give the council a fuller picture of how residents feel about a park bond referendum,” he said.

Survey respondents are being asked to rate the city’s existing parks/trails/recreation facilities, what additional facilities and recreation programs they would like to see and participation in sports leagues and recreation programs.

Specific to the proposed park bond issue, residents participating in the survey are being asked if they support the individual components the council is proposing for the park bond referendum and if they support or oppose a property tax increase for each one.

The survey wants participants to rank a top and second priority for the various proposals and to indicate if they are opposed to any of them.

In addition, residents surveyed are also being questioned on how much of a property tax increase they would be willing to pay over the 20-year life of the bonds and how strongly they support or oppose a tax increase.

Under the city’s $21.5 million park bond referendum proposal, property taxes would increase about $50 a year on a $150,000 home and $113 a year on a home valued at $300,000 home.

The scenario approved by the council last month would not have a single bond sale, if a referendum is approved, but two separate sales five years apart.

The projects would be split into two phases to be completed over a 10-year period, according to City Manager Steve Gatlin.

They include renovation and redevelopment of larger parks – Sand Creek, Riverview, Lions Coon Creek and Crooked Lake – as well as four neighborhood parks, Riverwind, Woodcrest, Delta and Mason, construction of a new park, Boulevard Park, and a new dog park, plus improving and upgrading regional trails and connecting trails and sidewalks throughout the city to fill in gaps.

The phase one proposed project list with cost estimates includes:

• Renovation and improvements at Sand Creek Park, complete reconstruction of ballfields and construction of skate park and splash pad water feature, $6,107,000.

• Redevelopment of Riverview Park, new skate park, community building, playgrounds and ballfields, $2,007,000.

• Trail construction on Coon Creek, Sand Creek and 85th Avenue, $1,740,000.

• Sidewalk gaps, $1,000,000.

• Construction of Evergreen Dog Park on city-owned property in Evergreen Business Park to replace Trackside Dog Park, $82,000.

• Construction of Boulevard Park in front of the Coon Rapids Ice Center, splash pad water features, playgrounds and picnic area, $500,000.

• Reconstruction of Riverwind Park, $400,000.

Phase two projects planned include:

• Reconstruction of Lions Coon Creek Park, new large group picnic shelters, gardens and playgrounds, $962,000.

• Renovation of Crooked Lake Beach Park, reconstruction and replacement of tennis courts, playgrounds and trails, $770,000.

• Construction to fill in remaining trail gaps (Mississippi Regional Trail, northern and middle linkages) and sidewalk gaps, $6,885,000.

• Reconstruction of Delta Park, $290,000.

• Reconstruction of Mason Park $427,000.

• Reconstruction of Woodcrest Park, $632,500.

The cost of the survey will be taken from the city’s park improvement fund.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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