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Park & Rec board authorizes bids for German Park amphitheater

Pledges still short by $320,000

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Park and Recreation Commission recommended the plans, specifications and authorized the bidding process for the German Park Amphitheater at its meeting Monday.

This project has been discussed for a decade. The earthen and grass seating terraces have slumped and degraded, making them unusable for lawn chairs. In addition, the terraces are inaccessible to the mobility-impaired.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the top reason for the project is to make the theater compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

Bolton & Menk landscape architect John Nelson gave a presentation on the proposed plan for the amphitheater, including renderings of the upgraded amphitheater.

The renderings included two new ADA ramps to the top of the amphitheater for wheelchair seating. The existing ramps would also be used for ADA seating on the lower level. Nelson said the design will give 40 feet of area to accommodate wheelchairs on the top row.

New trees and plantings will also be placed for shading and to replace the ash trees currently shading the theater.

The stairway leading into the garden section of the park would be replicated in the theater section. Stair lighting would be added for safety.

Commissioner David Christian made the motion to recommend the plans and specifications, but said the city council would likely be concerned about the project shortfall.

The present construction cost estimate is $778,703.50. To date, $457,725 has been received in cash and pledges for this project. Fundraising efforts continue, but the project has a shortfall of over $320,000.

Schmitz said this recommendation does not commit the city to any funds, but it does move the process forward to complete the construction documents and submit for bids to determine the true costs.

The commission unanimously recommended forwarding the recommendation to city council.

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The Commission recommended the installation of a metal portrait of Christian Prignitz on the north side of the power plant building facing German Park.

Denis Warta approached city staff to attach a six to eight foot portrait of Prignitz to the power plant.The recommendation previously came before the Public Utilities Commission and was approved.

Prignitz was a pioneer surveyor and in 1858 drew the plat of New Ulm. This plat design was unique because it featured wide streets before automobiles and the inclusion of public parks, gardening plots, market squares, and urban forests.

Warta said his design for New Ulm was one of a few city plats that did not need to be updated in 150 years. Warta said only another city with this distinction was New York City.

The portrait of Prignitz would overlook German Park, which he designed in his original plat. The portrait will be lit with solar panels at night and will likely incorporate a security camera to monitor the park.

The park commission was asked to authorize installation because the portrait will be visible from German Park.

The commission unanimously approved the recommendation.

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Schmitz updated the commission on Reinvest in New Ulm (RENU) projects. The Hermann Heights improvement concept plan is nearing completion. This involves the relocation of Monument Street and installing parking infrastructure. Schmitz said staff was on schedule for design and bidding to begin this winter.

Commissioner Chris Vorwerk asked if the plan would eliminate one of the two shelters at the park. Schmitz said the plan was to maintain two shelters.

Johnson Park is under construction. The project is currently on schedule to be completed before winter.

The Recreation Center is still in the concept phase for the indoor waterpark, indoor playground, gymnastics center and wellness center. Schmitz said the committee was still two months away from finalizing a concept, but project bidding could begin in the fall.

The next Park and Recreation meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12.

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