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Brainerd: Parks board supports Lum Park for children's museum. Minimal changes needed to park

Lum Park is on the east side of Brainerd just off Highway 210 with access to Rice Lake, camping, playground, fishing and disc golf. 1 / 3
Brainerd Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailer (center) discusses the possibility of locating Region Five's proposed children's museum in Lum Park with the parks board during a special meeting Thursday, May 2, at city hall. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 3
Lum Park, on the right side of the map, is just off Highway 210 in east Brainerd and includes frontage on Rice Lake. Google Map3 / 3

It's a yes from the council and a yes from the parks board, but Region Five still gets the final say in where its proposed children's museum will be located.

If Brainerd city officials had a say, though, it seems Lum Park—the first of the city's two proposals—would be the spot.

"I love the idea," Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailer said after a special parks board meeting Thursday, May 2. "I think it'd be a great addition to the community, and I would look forward as a parks director to working with them on numerous projects. I think it'd be a good blend of good working relationships, and I'm very excited about the prospect."

After a request for the proposal from the Region Five Children's Museum Board of Directors, city council and staff members came up with Lum Park and the Brainerd Public Library as two locations to pitch for the children's museum, a joint project between Sourcewell and Region Five to provide both indoor and outdoor environments and programs to engage children in a unique learning experience.

"Their vision is to educate children throughout the region," Brainerd Community Development Director David Chanski said during Thursday's meeting, noting specific themes the board of directors outlined for the museum, including: at the lake, into the woods, the great outdoors, from the garden, open for possibilities and on the road.

When choosing locations to propose, Chanski said a committee of select staff and council members landed on Lum Park because of its access to Rice Lake—a lake formed from the dam on the Mississippi River—forestry land, gardening space and central location within Region Five, which consists of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties.

During a council meeting Monday, April 29, the city council voted to pitch both Lum Park and the Brainerd Public Library site as possibilities for the museum's location, with Lum Park being the first choice.

With 24 letters for support from community entities in tow, Chanski told the parks board he wanted its support as well before sending out the city's proposals, which are due Friday.

Before giving their approval, board members asked about any potential costs to the city or disruptions to the park, were the project to come to fruition in Lum Park.

With the proposal to place the museum within the existing footprint of the parks and recreation office space, Chanski said the likely only burden to the city would be parks staff working on and maintaining some of the museum's landscaping. There would be potential for parks staff to share office space with the museum, promoting the kind of partnerships Sailer mentioned.

Otherwise, the city is also working on plans to renovate city hall, which could include new space for parks and recreation staff, while moving much of the parks equipment to the street department maintenance garage on Thiesse Road.

As far as the rest of the park, Chanski said there would be very few changes needed with the current proposal. Two minor potential changes he mentioned were shifting one hole on the disc golf course and sharing the boat parking spaces with buses during the school year. Placing the museum near the front of the park would provide buffer room between it and the campground, which he said would remain unaffected and could even benefit from the museum.

"It's still a public park for the rest of the community to use," Chanski said. "The museum would just be an extra element available there."

Council President Gabe Johnson noted Thursday the city's current proposal states the parks department would still maintain the park as is, should the museum be built.

If the city's role in maintaining space for the museum were to get too costly, park board member Dale Parks asked if the city may ever be allowed to collect part of the museum's admission fees to make up for it. Chanski said that and any other questions could be discussed in the future if Lum Park is chosen.

After choosing a location, the museum's board of directors still has to create a marketing plan and launch its capital campaign, which means the museum likely will not be built for another 3-5 years.

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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