Baldwin’s community effort creates a park in phases

The Community Visioning Session that Baldwin Township residents held in June roused a lot of interest in developing Young Park at 305th Avenue and 108th Street. In fact, it was tied for the top idea when residents voted that night on what they most wanted to see accomplished in Baldwin.

But residents who got involved in the Healthy Communities Partnership program of the Initiative Foundation are not just interested in seeing a park built. They want to help.

At Tuesday’s park meeting, representatives from the Partnership group reminded township officials that their volunteers are still ready, able and hoping to get things rolling on the park before winter sets in.

Town Board Chair Jeff Holm said progress has been made on the park, though mostly from the planning side. A survey was done this week, and the township plans to refine the park’s trails and identify the wetlands within the survey in order to reissue a set of construction plans.

There are already lights up at the park, which Jeff said make the otherwise empty park look like the field of dreams.

Further park development will happen in phases, with the first phase taking place as soon as possible so that the park will be usable for the remainder of fall and in the winter months. Further improvements will be made later.

This fall, the township plans to fill and level the gravel parking lot, mark the edges of the park with signs and possibly create trail markers so that the park’s trails could be used for winter recreation. The township does not plan to grade or plow the trails yet, but marking them should be enough to help residents and visitors make use of them in winter.

There are a variety of other projects planned for the park to be completed later that will offer opportunities for volunteers to help.

There is a large garage on the Young Park property that the township wants to turn into a pavilion for people to use during the warm months. In the cold months, picnic tables and other movable park features could be stored in the garage. But the garage needs a little bit of work — painting and attaching doors among other things.

The township needs help planting trees as well as sanding and painting several park benches and matching trash cans they have acquired.

Additionally, volunteers are already thinking about what kind of events could be held at the park to draw in residents from around the local area. They are trying to set up a winter solstice event for this year. In the future, they’re thinking about offering guided nature walks and having Sherburne Wildlife Preserve experts provide talks about area wildlife.

There are some bigger plans for the park that will require more funding. The township is looking into the terms of how they access the parks money they already have that is in the county’s possession and investigating possible grants for park improvements. Future plans for the park include a ball field and/or mixed-use athletic field, interpretive signs for trails, bike racks and more special events.

“One thing you can do to help is just show up,” said Dave Patten, Park Committee Chair. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years, and there are usually six people here [at the meetings].”

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