Event to kick off fundraising for final phase of Turner Park improvements

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To date, $123,000 has been raised for the Turner Park: Fitness for All Ages improvement project, allowing for a majority of the first three phases of work to be completed. Now, fundraising efforts will focus on the fourth phase—a splash pad. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The Turner Park hog roast event on Friday, July 22, will signal the beginning of fundraising for the final phase of park improvements.

To date, $123,000 has been raised for the Turner Park: Fitness for All Ages improvement project, allowing for a majority of the first three phases of work to be completed. Among the changes at the park, located in McGregor next to the Great River Care Center, are a walking track, which was completed last fall, and new playground equipment, erected this spring. This summer, ADA sidewalks were constructed and the shelter pads were extended. New picnic tables were also added, and are now available for memorials. 

New grills have been ordered and will be in place soon, as will a memorial bench and goal posts. Other forthcoming updates include a parking extension, better access to the track and enclosing the drainage ditch.

“The concession stand is in the planning stages,” said McGregor city administrator Lynette Sander of the boat structure currently located in the park, which will be used as the concession stand. She said the exterior will get a new look, with a door and new windows, while the interior will see electrical work along with counters and storage space. A refrigerator has been donated and the McGregor Clan Lions Club has bought a freezer.

The final phase of the project is construction of a splash pad, which is a recreation area for water play, with ground nozzles and other taller structures that spray and shower users with water.

“There’s a lot of excitement for it,” said Janet Hallberg, who’s part of the Turner Park Committee. “I get the most questions about that.”

The first step will be looking at layouts, Sander noted.

“We need to look at the space and see what can be done,” Hallberg commented. “Even if we start small, we want enough space that it can be added to.”

Hallberg said planning for the splash pad will likely take longer than some of the other park improvements. An official cost will be determined once more planning has been completed.

“We don’t want to rush it,” she said, “and we need everyone in town onboard.”

Cheri Moser, who’s also part of the committee, said her family has been doing a lot of splash pad research by visiting other communities with splash pads, gathering ideas that will work best for Turner Park.

“I think it will be great for our town and will bring in kids and families from other nearby towns as well,” she said. “We can’t wait to offer a fun and free place for everyone to cool off and have fun all summer long.”

In addition to the splash pad, Sander said a shade structure, which will be located near the splash pad, will also be part of phase four improvements. If there’s room, a small recycled play area, possibly utilizing tires, will be added, as well.

Hallberg admitted she didn’t anticipate that work at Turner Park would progress this quickly. Project planning began in 2013, after a small tornado tore through the park, damaging the outdated equipment. Fundraising for the project began in earnest early last year.

“It helps to get good donations,” Sander said, noting two large grants from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation and the McElroy Trust. She said a sign will soon go up at the park recognizing those who’ve contributed to the project.

“The support the community has given us has been great,” Hallberg said. “People stop and tell me how nice [the park] looks, and there are always kids playing there. It’s nice to bring the park back.”

She said the Great River Care Center residents and staff have watched work progress and are excited to be able to more easily utilize the park, thanks to the new sidewalks.

The park has already been used more for parties and events, Hallberg added.

So far, Sander and Hallberg said people have been largely respectful of the new equipment and other park additions. A fence has been put up by the playground to keep kids from straying into the road. The biggest issue is making sure people do not drive vehicles onto the track, they stressed.

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s still the big project to go,” Hallberg said.

That’s where the event on Friday, July 22, comes in, she said, with all proceeds going toward funding the splash pad. 

Aside from the hog roast, the event, like last year, was going to include a 5K run/walk and kid’s fun run. However, due to projected heat indexes of over 100 degrees, that portion of the event has been cancelled. 

Now, only the hog roast will take place, but it has been moved from the Turner Park shelter to St. Mary’s Parish Hall in McGregor. It will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Free-will donations will be appreciated. To-go meals will also be available. A drawing for raffle prizes will be held, as well.

This event was held for the first time last year, “so it’s the first ‘second annual,’” Hallberg noted. “It’s cool that it’s come full circle.”

To stay updated on the Turner Park improvements and any fundraisers, find “Turner Park: Fitness For All Ages” on Facebook.

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