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RENU updates delivered

NEW ULM — Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz gave an update to the Park and Recreation Commission on the Reinvest in New Ulm (RENU) projects Monday.

The improvements at Johnson Park have begun. The last baseball game of 2019 was played at Johnson Park Sunday. Web Construction began the process of updating the grandstands Monday. Baseball will start in Mueller Park after backstop improvements.

Schmitz said staff is taking advantage of the construction to conduct maintenance on the turf.

A right field observation deck will be constructed along with grandstand improvements, but this is not being funded through RENU. The city council agreed to fund the deck with the promise the New Ulm Baseball Association (NUBA) will pay back the city for the deck.

The completion date for the park is mid-October.

Hermann Heights Park improvement is still in the conceptual phase and will soon move into the construction document phase. The start date for construction at Hermann Heights Park is still unknown, but at the earliest will begin in 2020.

The city council is also awaiting the subcommittee’s retaining wall recommendation. The city is hoping to make improvements to Monument Street, Hermann Heights parking lot and the retaining wall in the same construction season.

The Recreation Center will be the location for the new Aquatic Center, Wellness Center, Gymnastic Center, and Indoor Playground. Four subcommittee meetings have been held regarding these projects.

Schmitz said the current concept is to create a completely new aquatic center. The pool room would become the gymnastics center. The aquatic center would be moved to the south parking lot, but still connected to Rec Center. The indoor playground will be adjacent to the aquatic center. The main entrance to the building will likely be relocated.

Commissioner Bob Skillings asked if the aquatic center could host competitive events.

Assistant Park and Rec Director Cheryl Kormann said pool lanes will exist for training, but the pool will not have enough depth for swim meets.

Schmitz said there was a discussion of designing it to meet those standards, but it was not pursued because New Ulm has no high school league swimming.

The amenities for the aquatic center are still under consideration. Kormann said there will be two pools, a lap and recreation pool. They will have two different temperatures.

Schmitz said the amenities will be modest based on the budget for the facility.

The new Gymnastics Center will hold competitive meets. The new facility will be at least 10,000 square feet and capable of holding year-round gymnastics meets.

Schmitz said it will become a regional gymnastics center.

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The commission approved a BMX camping request in South German Park. This is an annual request for overnight camping during the Minnesota State Qualifier Race. This summer, River Valley BMX is hosting two races. In addition to the Qualifier Race, they will host the Gold Cup Qualifier Race.

The camping is for the nights of Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13. Schmitz said between one and ten families camp near the BMX track and this request has not led to any problems in past years.

The final authorization will come before the city council.

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The Park and Recreation Department received $18,855.27 in cash donations in the last two months. These donations came from 23 different individuals and organizations. German Park Amphitheater received $1,500 in donations. German Park paver stone improvements received $210. The Days of Play sponsorship for 2019 received $3,050. The Glockenspiel received $1,000 to offset the cost of figurine replacement. Hermann Monument received $1,000. The Rec on the Go/Yoga in the Park programming received $11,710. The Dog Park received $375.27 for improvements.

These donations were forwarded to the city council for formal acceptance.

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In the staff report, Schmitz informed the commission North Park will be the site of a new splashpad. The donor of the splashpad, Barbara Haroldson, was happy with the location at North Park.

Schmitz said North Park is four square city blocks. Three of the blocks have ball fields, meaning the splashpad will be located in the quadrant near the playground, shelter and horseshoe pit.

Schmitz anticipated a ribbon cutting for the splashpad would take place in August.

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