Pequot Lakes Mayor's Notebook: What makes a city great
As many of you know, not only am I mayor of Pequot Lakes, but I'm very involved in the Pequot Lakes Community Library (as volunteer coordinator).
Recently, someone donated a book for our collection, "What Makes A Great City," by Alexander Garvin; needless to say, it caught my attention.
While Garvin's book concentrates on large cities, his core premise can be applied to smaller communities and seems extremely relevant to Pequot Lakes right now. His premise: It is the city's streets, squares and parks that, while having specific and very different functions, contribute to making the public realm even richer.
Our community has changed, there is no denying that. The highway no longer goes right through the center of town. What we do about it and the attitude we take has, and will continue to have, a great impact on how successful our town will be. I can tell you that the council and its commissions, the chamber, Pequot Promoters, Community Action, Thriving Communities Initiative, plus many more groups have been working together, putting their heart and soul into making sure Pequot Lakes thrives.
The relevancy of Garvin's book comes to our community right now because we are in the midst of final planning and implementation of a detailed plan for an expanded Trailside Park in the center of our community. Not something that is a sudden, fly-by-night idea, parts of this plan actually go back to the city's comprehensive plan (adopted in 2013), which includes "Establish an outdoor skating rink in the Grow Zone" and "Establish a splash pad or other water-based recreational amenity in the Grow Zone."
Looking to the future, in 2015, the council voted to have SAS professionally design Trailside Park so it would be well done and a true gathering place (as discussed in Garvin's book) for our residents.
Following that decision, in 2016, the city received an anonymous donation of $250,000 to be used for a flag display and toward a splash pad in that expanded, redesigned park.
Also since 2016, Pequot has participated, and continues to participate, in the Thriving Communities Initiative where over 150 people gave input to making our community a place where we all wanted to live. One of the top goals from that process was to offer expanded outdoor activities throughout the city and in Trailside Park.
When does this park expansion that we've been talking about for so long begin? Well, if I didn't have white hair before, it would certainly be white now! We are waiting on the road turnbacks from MnDOT to Crow Wing County to Pequot Lakes; this process is supposed to start in late March and is expected to take several months.
The city needs to own Patriot Avenue because (in case you have somehow missed this) the section from the stoplight north to the lumber yard will be removed to allow for that much-desired pond/skating rink and splash pad, resulting in the design of a town square, with north- or south-bound cars choosing to go either right or left when they arrive at the square going by our businesses.
This in no way disrupts the north or south entrances to our community.
As I said, this park planning has been going on for a long time. If you somehow have missed it, go the city website (www.pequotlakes-mn.gov), click on "parks - Trailside Park" and look at the design; it can be enlarged by clicking on the map image.
There are also design maps posted at the library and in various businesses around town. I'm at the library most mornings, should you want to stop by.