Changes to Coon Rapids Summer in the City program

Changes have been made to this year’s Summer in the City program in Coon Rapids.

For its first five years, the city has hosted the annual program in each of the city’s five election wards at different parks each year as an opportunity for residents to meet with Coon Rapids City Council and staff in an informal atmosphere to learn about what’s happening in the city and in their neighborhoods.

In 2014, the number of Summer in the City events has been cut from five to four and the four parks selected won’t be ward specific. But none of the four parks has been visited before by the city for the program.

The decision to go with four instead of five events this year was made in part because weather has been a factor the past two years with one event each year postponed because of storms in one case and another extreme heat in the other, according to City Manager Steve Gatlin.

The 2014 schedule is:

• Tuesday, June 24: Sunrise Pond Park, 124th Avenue and University Avenue.

• Tuesday, July 22: Peppermint Stick Park, 11480 Raven St. NW.

• Tuesday, July 29: Lions Coon Creek Park, 1664 119th Lane NW.

• Tuesday, Aug. 26: Riverwind Park, 11747 Crocus St. NW.

Those parks were chosen because all four are scheduled for improvement projects, two this year through the city budget process and the other two in the near future with proceeds from the $17.2 million park bond issue approved by voters in November 2013.

The 2014 parks budget includes $200,000 for park projects and Sunrise Pond Park and Peppermint Stick Park have been earmarked for improvements with that money, Gatlin said.

Sunrise Pond Park was developed in the past couple of years as part of a new single-family housing development at Main Street and Foley Boulevard with money provided by the developer, he said.

According to Public Works Director Tim Himmer, the work planned this summer is “modest” with items that were left to be completed following the initial construction.

This includes irrigation, turf establishment, shelter or gazebo construction and installation of a retaining wall, Himmer said.

At Peppermint Stick Park, nothing will change, but there will be updates, including new playground structures for five- to 12-year-olds plus new benches and some trail work, he said.

Both Lions Coon Creek Park and Riverwind Park are scheduled for improvements with park bond issue proceeds, Gatlin said.

“Lions Park is one of our largest parks and we have not been there before, while the Riverwind Recreation Center adjacent to Riverwind Park is home to the teen center,” he said.

Upgrades planned at Riverwind Park include a new play area in a shaded setting, basketball court, small skate park, enhanced pedestrian access and trails and parking improvements.

The work proposed at Lions Coon Creek Park includes partial renovation to enhance the park’s layout, construction of a large picnic shelter, improved play area, new basketball and volleyball courts, possible expanded parking and plans to address environmental concerns such as parking runoff and erosion to Coon Creek.

While there are changes to the overall Summer in the City program this year, the format at each event will remain the same, according to Kristin DeGrande, the city’s neighborhood coordinator, who coordinates the program.

Each event will run from 6:30-8 p.m. starting with an open house in which residents have the opportunity to chat informally with council members and city staff as well as visit tables of materials set up by various city departments, DeGrande said.

In addition, a police squad car, large fire truck and a public works front end loader will be on-site for children to explore, she said.

Following the open house, Mayor Tim Howe will speak about citywide programs and projects, while a ward council member will talk about neighborhood issues, DeGrande said.

A question and answer session follows, she said.

Refreshments in the form of ice cream bars and bottled water are served.