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Pequot Lakes could be home to splash pad by July 4

Fundraising efforts are well underway with more events planned and continued individual donations

Pequot Lakes splash pad artistic rendering March 2022
This is an artistic rendering of what the 50-diameter circle splash pad will resemble when constructed this spring and summer near the playground in Pequot Lakes' Trailside Park.
Contributed / Commercial Recreation Specialists
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PEQUOT LAKES — Donors are rallying and Pequot Lakes’ Trailside Park could be home to a long anticipated splash pad by July 4.

That’s the goal to construct the 50-diameter circle splash pad.

The idea was tossed around for more than five years until the Pequot Lakes City Council granted the go-ahead in November to build the splash pad so long as no city-levied property tax funds were used.

In February, the council accepted a quote for $130,246 from Commercial Recreation Specialists to install the turnkey splash pad that could consist of three vertical risers, 11 geysers and four safe swaps for future feature upgrades.

Council also accepts quote for the splash pad to be installed in Trailside Park; fundraising efforts continue
Resident-led fundraising effort to get underway

A fundraising committee had $153,296 for the project a week ago, with more donations coming in every week. The council agreed Tuesday, March 1, to pay the down payment, order equipment and schedule construction of the splash pad.

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Funds include $69,413 from an anonymous donation the city received in 2016 (the rest of the $100,000 donation was spent on a park study), nearly $10,000 from an ongoing fundraising campaign, an anonymous $25,000 matching donation and $49,140 in park dedication funds the council approved March 1.

So we have a lot of places in town taking a stake in this and helping us out.
Jenni Gonczy, splash pad fundraising coordinator

Council member Cheri Seils voted against using park dedication funds, only because she first wanted the recommendation to come from the city’s park commission. Mayor Tyler Gardner agreed, but still voted to use those funds for the splash pad.

The state specifies that park dedication fees - which are fees assessed on developments in the city - must be spent to enhance the park system. Uses include land acquisition, new recreation facilities or expanded amenities. Fees can’t be used for rehabilitation or maintenance.

Jenni Gonczy, fundraising coordinator, said if enough funds are raised, the park dedication fees won’t be needed. Additional funding is being sought through a Sourcewell grant and Crow Wing Energized, and fundraising will continue through summer.

Pequot Lakes City Council splash pad discussion.jpg
Jenni Gonczy, left, splash pad fundraising coordinator, talks with the Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in the council chambers at city hall.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

“That’s our goal was just to do as much as we can through fundraising,” Gonczy said in an interview Thursday, March 3.

To that end, activities to raise funds have included a movie night at Sunset Cinema in Jenkins, helping the Brainerd Jaycees at the Ice Fishing Extravaganza, face painting at Crosslake WinterFest, a raffle at the Bobber Bocce on Ice event in Pequot Lakes, a Dairy Queen day where the Pequot Lakes restaurant donated 20% of sales to the project, and the sale of engraved pavers that will be placed around the splash pad.

“It’s coming from all over,” Gonczy said of private donations.

There are so many people behind this thing and it’s going to be a huge benefit to our city.
Scott Pederson, Pequot Lakes City Council member

Upcoming fundraising events include a vendor show and raffle from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at the Jack Pine Center in Pequot Lakes; a Pequot Lakes Schools grades K-4 change wars, where the goal is to raise $150 per graduating class for each class to buy engraved pavers in the park; a March roundup at Pequot Lakes Supervalu; a sip and shop event April 9; and a community garage sale May 14 at the Cole Memorial Building.

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Paver sales continue, where people can pay from $150-$1,000 for different sized engraved dedication pavers. A $1,000-$2,500 donation is good for logo embellished park accessories; $2,500-$5,000 gets a name on the lower panel of the permanent splash pad sign; and $5,000 or more gets a name on the upper panel of the sign.

Anyone who wants to donate, buy a paver or get more information should email pequotsplashpad@gmail.com .

Pequot Lakes splash pad logo
Pequot Lakes splash pad logo.
Contributed (March 2022)

Gonczy said 90% of donations came in February through paver sales and as individual donations. She said $2,700 per week has been coming in through fundraising.

“So we have a lot of places in town taking a stake in this and helping us out,” Gonczy told the council March 1.

Both Gonczy and the council were pleased with the community excitement for the splash pad.

“We have the splash pad fully funded without using any taxpayer money,” council member Scott Pederson said.

“That’s how important this park is to the people of this town,” he said, noting he thinks the city will receive donated funds over what is needed by $20,000-$30,000.

He issued a giant thank you to the council, city staff, park commission and Community Action of Pequot Lakes.

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“There are so many people behind this thing and it’s going to be a huge benefit to our city,” Pederson said.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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