February 11th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, printed with permission from the Renville County Register

Last week we reviewed our area towns’ park system. We discussed how our towns’ web sites treat the subject of parks. We discussed especially how the town’s web sites use parks as incentive to people who might look to our towns as a destination.

Would people want to move to our town to live and work? Do our towns offer amenities like parks that many young families feel are important for raising kids?

Would people who were raised here want to “come home” to their home town to raise kids? These are the famous “Boomerangers” who have left our towns and now, due to many important reasons, want to return.

Will Boomerangers find reasons to return based on our towns’ web sites? The answer to that question may cause us some consternation. Remember, just keeping our numbers of residents stable is a difficult job. Making our population increase even a little bit would help to insure the vitality of our area communities.


As we think about our parks s incentives to draw Boomerangers and visitors, we must examine what we have. After an inventory of our parks (last week’s issue), we need to look at what can be done to improve them.

It never hurts to keep the idea of returning young families in mind as we seek ways to improve our parks. It certainly won’t hurt our towns’ future to plan park improvements that might make a future entrepreneur want to come to our towns to start a business.

Businesses coming into our towns improve the tax base. New businesses bring jobs. Jobs bring or keep people in our towns. More people will own property, pay taxes and provide new leaders that just might improve the way our towns function.

I have a list of ideas that the Village of Olivia Parks and Recreation Board has discussed. This is a “wish list” or a “bucket list” for long term planning. Maybe your town has such a list too, but we present this for your information.

As with all “wish lists”, money is the controlling factor. But, some things can be done each year as village budgets allow. We will list all Olivia Parks and the things that the Parks and Recreation Board listed as their wishes:

  • DOWLING PARK:  This “mini-park” is located on the east side of main street (9th) near Dirks Furniture Store. Wishes: shelter, benches, picnic table, gates, mural and electricity.
  • MEMORIAL PARK:   This is affectionately called Corn Cob Park and is located along Highway 212 on the south side of the highway. Free camping and a shelter are top features here. Wishes: Frisbee golf, informational kiosks, signage, upgrade camper’s bathroom and shower facilities.
  • WEST SIDE/POND PARK:   This park has combined with the Stormwater Retention Pond. Wishes: removing the fence separating West Park from the Pond portion; new playground equipment, tree trimming, shelter, toilet facilities, water, benches, picnic tables, fire pit with cooking grill, paved path (now mowed) around the pond for biking and hiking, better lighting, fishing pier or dock, parking access from the 15th. St. north side; a natural playground mixed in the pond area, making the pond deeper, planting demonstration plots of native prairie wild flowers, pollinator attracting flowers, etc. Adding more bird houses around the perimeter will be done.
  • SUNRISE PARK:   Wishes: wood chips added under the new playground equipment present there.
  • HENTON PARK:   Wishes: new playground equipment, demonstration plot for bee and butterfly conservation and flowers, remodel the shelter, basketball court, repair ice skating rink.
  • KUBESH PARK:    Located near Highway 71, this park is popular with people stopping for travel breaks. Wishes: basketball court, paint the shelter, more kids’ playground equipment.
  • DIRKS PARK:        Wishes: repair ball diamond fences, maintain concession stand, improve shelter area, irrigate fields, lighting maintenance and improvements.
  • NESTER PARK:    Wishes: upgrade, repair, maintenance of tennis courts, basketball courts and bathrooms.
  • RAINBOW PARK:   Located across the highway from the now-closing Alco Building, a little corner of land where snow is dumped and such. Yes, it is a “park” of sorts. Wishes: make a demonstration planting area for pollinator (bee and butterfly) conservation.
  • PARKS AND RECREATION IN GENERAL:    Generally for the whole park system, the following “wishes” exist:
    • More park signage
    • movies in a park
    • book loan kiosks in parks
    • ski trail grooming
    • working on “safe routes to school”
    • sledding hills
    • splash pads
    • handicap accessibility
    • connection to other recreational trails that may come in the future.

Olivia Parks and Recreation team is looking at a “shared roads” concept for trails. This means hikers, bikers, and cars share the roads we have with proper signage and street markings.

Dreams can become reality one park and one improvement at a time.


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