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Goals set for Nisswa Lake Park, Donor honored

Millie Gjertson (right) talks with Mary Harder of Brainerd and another person before a presentation on the Nisswa Lake Park project and future plans. Gjertson's donations helped make park projects a reality. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

At a celebration of the Nisswa Lake Park and Recreational Area project, goals for the next three years were announced, and donor Millie Gjertson was introduced and honored for her generosity, which has made the current progress possible.

The Friends of Nisswa Lake Park hosted the event Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Nisswa Community Center.

Gjertson made donations to the project after having them brought to her attention by financial adviser Paul Greengo.

"When you work for someone 28 years you hopefully become friends as Millie and I have," Greengo said. "One thing we've had in common is that we always have loved the environment, nature and being out in it, so I was always on the lookout for those types of projects I could bring to her attention and see what she thought."

Gjertson donated $35,000 last June toward the development of the park. She later agreed to an additional $50,000 to completely fund the creation of a picnic shelter.

"The city matched that $35,000 and is now moving forward with connecting a downtown park, a tunnel underneath 371 all the way to the bluffs on Nisswa Lake," said Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Hill. "It's a very important first step in the development part, really connecting downtown to the lake. Nisswa has always been in the heart of lake country, and we are so close but have had no lake access to it. This is a perfect step in getting Nisswa Lake and the Gull Lake Chain of Lakes connected to downtown Nisswa."

"The nice thing about what Millie has made possible is that this spring and early summer, the park is going to be a very usable park to the public," Greengo said.

The early stages of the park are expected to be completed this year, including landscaping and development of the parkland itself, installation of signage, development of a park loop trail project connecting the city to Nisswa Lake and installation of the picnic shelter and benches.

The group has many goals yet and is seeking donors for the following projects:

• Lake overlook scenic plaza, $50,000.

• Covered bike shelter and racks, $8,000.

• Site lighting and power, $35,000.

• Parking lot and access road, $110,000.

• Native plant rain garden, $25,000.

• ADA access trails to the waterfront, $30,000.

• Waterfront boardwalk, $110,000.

• Floating dock system, $60,000.

• Bathrooms/pavillion facility, $150,000.

• Fishing pier, $25,000.

• Outdoor education/performance space, $40,000.

There will be several drives to help fund the projects, including the sale of "Walk in the Park" coffee by Stonehouse Coffee and Roastery. Friends of Nisswa Lake Park hope the park will be open by July 4, with additions being made as funds become available.

The land acquisition for this project began in 2009 with a goal of completion of the current projects in 2021.