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Former Nisswa Park Commission member shares views

I sat on the Nisswa Parks & Recreation Commission for a number of years, and one of its mission statements is "promoting recreational programs and opportunities for maximum utilization of public recreational facilities consistent with overall...

I sat on the Nisswa Parks & Recreation Commission for a number of years, and one of its mission statements is "promoting recreational programs and opportunities for maximum utilization of public recreational facilities consistent with overall policies of the City Council."

Four years ago our city paid $10,000 to Community Growth Institute to conduct a survey to be used as guidance and direction in moving forward with the department. Out of that survey came recommendations that P&R provide more recreational programs for its young citizens.

Back then we had a successful baseball program involving dozens of children; we spent tens of thousands of dollars on dugouts, scoreboards and other improvements.

This past summer, there was not one youth baseball game played on our city fields - not one.

Many of our families are forced to go to other communities simply to keep their children active. With children suffering from childhood diabetes and obesity, we as a community and commission should feel obligated to correct this national health issue. But active bodies are also essential to proper development, both physically and emotionally. We have a community school here with over 200 students in it and yet we offer no recreational activities.

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That's unacceptable.

This past September, during a commission meeting, there was a motion to spend $31,000 on playground equipment. I challenged the members to explain the reasoning for this large expenditure. I'm not opposed to it, just that there are more pressing issues such as the directives given from the community of more recreational programs. And yes, I was frustrated; and yes, I pressed that we at least discuss a youth football program, which we did.

I stood up and took a position, voiced my opinion and challenged the board to engage in promoting recreational programs. This city department has been focused more on parks, especially the new park, and not on the recreational part. Our residents go to other communities for programming because we simply don't offer any.

Look at our neighbors to the north - look at their offerings and then look at ours. We are very similar in population and vastly different on the importance of keeping children active.

It was stated that I just like stirring the pot; yes, the pot needs stirring. Unfortunately, it became personal, from the demands of an elected official to either step down or be voted off, to the name calling.

Bill Cruz is a Nisswa resident. The Nisswa City Council voted 4-1 last month to remove him from the Park Commission.

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