Former city beach now a park owned by Green Prairie Township
By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Little Falls has been asked to contribute funds to the upgrade and maintenance of what was once known to many residents as the “city beach,” near Green Prairie Fish Lake, located on County Road 212. Years ago, many Little Falls children took swimming lessons at the beach, including several current council members and it was a place for summer fun.
In 1992, the city turned the beach park area over to Green Prairie Township.
The park is right in the middle of Green Prairie and Darling townships and the Darling Township Board was asked to share in the expense of maintenance.
The townships sent a letter to the city of Little Falls requesting a donation for upgrades and maintenance at the park area.
During its April 1 work session, the Council learned that the city could not donate money for anything that was not in the public’s interest and if the Council chose to donate, a contract would be needed involving the city attorney.
Some members of the Council remembered having their swimming lessons at the city beach, some send visitors to the area and the Council decided it wanted to hear what any money would be used for.
Monday night, three Green Prairie Township Board members, Roderick “Butch” Fietek, Dennis Prozinski and Dan Maslowski, told the Council about improvements they’ve made and plans for more.
Fietek said when the townships started the upgrades, “Things were falling down pretty bad,” he said. “We started tearing things down and getting rid of it.”
Out went the docks and the changing rooms that had cement blocks falling out. Picnic tables were replaced as were benches, that often ended up in the lake, he said.
The docks have not and will not be replaced. Fietek said that suggests a swimming area that would require lifeguards and money for insurance. “People swim at their own risk,” he said.
Five or six new benches, made of recycled plastic, have been purchased at $400 each. A picnic table open-ended on one side to make it handicapped accessible, is also made of recycled plastic. It cost $1,200. All these pieces have been anchored in cement to keep them from being moved. Another four tables are chained down to one of the supports of the roof of the gazebo.
Four barbecue grills where people can use their own charcoal for hot dogs are available and volleyball nets are set up in the sand for a game or two.
“People make a day of it,” said Fietek.
The gazebo, which was falling apart, said Fietek, was refurbished by Cliff Siegler, who lives near the area. He also keeps an eye out for mischief.
This year, the townships would like to build permanent restrooms, at a cost of $8,000 – $10,000.
“We’ve been going with porta-potties and rent them for the whole summer,” said Fietek. “They serve their purpose, but we have had lots of vandalism on them.”
Fietek said the vandalism has been kept under control — Morrison County deputies swing by and neighbors help to keep an eye on the area.
“We finally decided we wanted to put in permanent type bathrooms,” said Fietek. “Something indestructible and handicapped-accessible.” Two restrooms would be put in with a holding tank.
Despite some of the work being done by volunteers, “It’s going to cost a few dollars, though,” said Fietek, “That’s why we approached city of Little Falls.”
The area is a popular gathering spot, said Fietek. Last summer, as hot as it was, he said the area was packed, with the parking filled to capacity and people parking on the road.
Fietek guessed more than half of the people that come out to use the area, which is five miles out of town, come from the city of Little Falls.
The next closest swimming area, besides the indoor pools at the middle school and St. Francis, Fietek guessed were at Pierz Park, Cedar Lake in Upsala, Pillsbury, west of Swanville and Two Rivers, south of Royalton.
Donations come from other townships, said Fietek. “Little Falls Township has been very good donating to the park, the city of Randall gives us money every year and we used to have Pike Creek and Flensburg Legion donating so people from around the whole area that use it can enjoy it.”
Some of those donations are falling by the wayside. “Everybody’s tightening up,” he said.
The group had no set amount in mind for a donation.
The Council will make a decision about whether it will offer funding at a future meeting.