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Pequot Lakes loses pledged donation for splash pad

Mayor, council member call funds raised 'amazing'

Pequot Lakes splash pad logo
Pequot Lakes splash pad logo.
Contributed (March 2022)
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PEQUOT LAKES — Despite losing a large pledged donation for a splash pad to be built near the playground in Trailside Park, the Pequot Lakes City Council is happily surprised with fundraising efforts.

“That’s amazing,” Mayor Tyler Gardner said after hearing at the Tuesday, April 5, regular council meeting that $51,162.99 had been raised, mostly in just the past couple months.

By Monday, April 11, that total had risen to $57,462.99, said Jenni Gonczy, splash pad fundraising coordinator.

The total does not include $49,140 in park dedication funds the council authorized last month for the splash pad or any city tax-levied dollars, Gonczy told the council. On April 11, she added that the park commission agreed last month to dedicate leftover franchise fees from 2021 - $7,148 of non-levied funds - to the splash pad.

The total does include an anonymous $25,000 matching donation, and Gonczy knows of additional funds due to come in yet. More fundraising events are scheduled too, and grant applications are being submitted.

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The last fundraising total the Echo Journal reported included the park dedication money, along with $69,413 remaining from an anonymous $100,000 pledged toward a splash pad in 2016.

The city learned last month - after agreeing to pay the down payment, order equipment and schedule construction of the 50-diameter circle splash pad - that the anonymous donor through the Fargo-Moorhead Foundation had decided not to provide the rest of the original pledge. Part of that - $30,587 - was already spent on a park study.

That donor also gave the city $150,000 for the flag display along Main Street that went up in 2019.

The donor reportedly withdrew the remaining pledged funds for the splash pad because of how long the process took. Different city councils researched the idea over a half dozen years until the current council granted the go-ahead in November to build the splash pad as long as no city-levied property tax funds were used.

Fundraising efforts are well underway with more events planned and continued individual donations
Majority of group at informational meeting say splash pad would be a benefit to city.
Council talks about fundraising, but takes no action on whether to proceed with a splash pad in Trailside Park

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

Total estimated cost for the splash pad is $160,000. The goal remains to build it by mid-summer.

Gonczy said word started spreading about the splash pad in November, and donations have come in steadily since February. The council was impressed at the amount of funds raised in winter months.

“That’s really a testament to the enthusiasm for this project,” council member Dan Ronning said.

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Additional funds not yet counted include $2,539 that Eagle View Elementary School students in grades K-4 raised in a coin war.

“That encouraged me more than anything else,” council member Scott Pederson said. “It’s amazing, the excitement from those kids. And that’s the target.”

Including the park dedication funds, money for the splash pad currently stands at around $100,000.

Gonczy said upcoming fundraisers include one from 3-8 p.m. April 28 at Tasty North Pizza where 20% of sales will go to the splash pad and a garage sale May 14 at the Cole Memorial Building.

Engraved footpath pavers are still for sale and order forms are on the splash pad website at www.pequotlakessplashpad.org.

She also promoted the idea of selling benches in the park, saying she has four interested businesses.

Council member Cheri Seils was absent April 5.

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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