Faribault County parks see attendance rise

BLUE EARTH — People are apparently taking notice of improvements made to two Faribault County parks, and there may be more enhancements on the way.

“Our 2018 receipts in both parks were higher than our 2017 receipts,” Mark Daly, the county engineer, explained to Faribault County commissioners Tuesday.

In fact, records show that Pihls Park more than doubled its receipts in 2018 compared to the previous year. The 2018 receipts were $27,037 compared to $13,093 in 2017.

There were many weekends people had to be turned away from Pihls Park because the park was full, Daly noted.

Woods Lake saw a more modest increase. Its 2018 receipts totaled $6,783 compared to $5,677 in 2017.

“The change in how we managed the parks has worked out real well,” Daly said.

One change is not having a park manager living on site in the park manager houses.

“We saved a lot of money by not having to supply electricity to the park houses,” Daly remarked.

The proposed improvements to Pihls Park include electrical upgrades to 31 sites by putting in new posts with a 50-amp service. The possibility of adding 10 more sites along the lake is also being pursued, according to Daly. Lastly, the possibility of overlaying the bituminous surface in the park is being considered.

The pond has been cleaned at Woods Lake. Once it is refilled, the water will be tested for safety by the Minnesota Department of Health.

“We also want to put signs up on Interstate 90 to direct people to Woods Lake Park, so they know it is open for business,” Daly said.

Commissioners also discussed moving the park houses out of the parks or demolishing them on site.

The house at Woods Lake is a manufactured home and is about 19 years old, according to Daly. Because it utilized electric heat, the average annual electric bill was $3,424. Meanwhile, the house at Pihls Park is 42 years old and the average electric bill was $1,600.

Inspections were done on both houses and those reports are available for the public to view.

Both houses are in need of repair and maintenance. Items that need attention include shingles, new furnaces and new windows.

Commissioners passed a motion directing Daly to offer the houses for sale to be moved off the property. If the structures do not sell, they will have to be demolished on site.

In other business:

o The board approved the temporary rehiring of retired employee Jim Franzen, to help in the engineering department. This was necessary due to the retirement of two other employees, Mark Durkee and Dave Babcock.

o Commissioner Warmka reported he had received word that the clinic in Kiester, operated by Mayo, will close on Jan. 25.