Plan to guide Nisswa parks in the next 20 years adopted

Recommendations total millions of dollars, but grant and fundraising opportunities exist

Nisswa Parks and recreation Master Plan February 2023.png
The Nisswa City Council adopted a Parks and Recreation Master Plan at the Feb. 21, 2023, regular meeting.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

NISSWA — A master parks and recreation plan looking ahead to the next 20 years exists for Nisswa.

The Nisswa City Council adopted the plan at its regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21, after a 50-minute presentation by Kevin Clarke, from HKGi, a landscape firm in Minneapolis the city hired to create the plan.

Read more about Nisswa's Parks and Recreation Master Plan

The plan mainly focuses on Nisswa’s existing city park and newly acquired parkland on Camp Lincoln Road.

The master plan will guide the city’s investments in parks and recreation for the next 20 years as the city looks at how best to take care of what it has and where changes and new ideas can have the most impact.

Though adopting the plan doesn’t cost money or lock the city into executing the plan, it does include recommendations that total millions of dollars.


  • Estimated costs to replace existing infrastructure are $6 million to $7 million.
  • Estimated costs to incorporate the master plan are $10 million to $11 million.

Cost estimates per park are:

  • Nisswa City Park: $9 million-$10.5 million.
  • Camp Lincoln Park: $700,000-$900,000.
  • Pocket park by the tunnel: $150,000-$250,000.
  • Other initiatives: $1 million-$1.5 million
  • Total: $11.5 million to $14 million.

“Those are big numbers. It’s a fair amount of investment,” Clarke said.

However, the council was reminded that the city can pursue grants, fundraisers and partnerships; and it can execute parts of the plan in phases. It can also tweak what the plan outlines.

Parks and Recreation Director Amber Moon Peterson said the Camp Lincoln Park would be easier to do in phases, while the city park’s different facets could be considered. For example, pickleball and tennis courts; ice rink and warming house.

The council should look at where the city is in the item replacement cycle, she said, noting the ice rink’s refrigeration is down, but that’s an expensive fix.

The master plan process started last June, and the city conducted an online survey, hosted an open house and shared concept drawings at a couple of community events to gauge what people want in their parks.

HKGi, which the city hired at a cost not to exceed $34,500, took all of that information and created preferred concept drawings for Nisswa City Park and Camp Lincoln park.

Nisswa’s vision is to “provide an interconnected, highly accessible, citywide recreational system with adequate public and private amenities that offer diverse and quality indoor and outdoor recreation for all.”



Survey results showed paved trails and the city playground are the most used park features.

People want to access to water for recreation, with a beach or splash pad being the most desired elements.

Also desired are standalone pickleball courts, natural resources enhancement, additional playground features and more trails.

Nisswa offers exceptional recreational offerings for a community of its size. Parks are centrally focused, and outstanding new investments and park development were noted (the Gull Lake Trail and Nisswa Lake Park).

Nisswa City Park

Clarke said this park is a gem in all it offers and in its use, but it’s showing its age in spots and has design issues.

The preferred concept focuses on enhancing what the park offers to ensure the facilities are great for the next generation of park users.

The concept plan improves circulation, upgrades the basketball court and improves the city park as a year-round destination.

It adds pickleball and tennis courts, a “destination playground,” covered ice rink and includes the softball and baseball fields.


Camp Lincoln Park

The preferred concept keeps the park natural but with restrooms and parking.

It features nature trails, signs telling the cultural and ecological story of the parkland, and keeps the site and Camp Lincoln Road natural and quiet in character.

An initial phase of park development - which could include the road, parking, restrooms, gate, trails, signs and shelter - is estimated to cost $350,000-$500,000.

A second phase of more trails, a boardwalk and bird blinds is estimated to cost the same.

Find the master plan on the city’s website at .

Find recordings of Nisswa City Council meetings on the city's YouTube channel.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

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 or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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