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What's your vision for Island Park? Input sought for master plan, including pool

The Fargo Park District board delayed the start to the Island Park pool reconstruction from this year to 2023 because they believed a master plan for the park should be completed first.

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Sarah Deyle of West Fargo and her children Emelia and Bennett enjoy a cross-country skiing outing at Island Park in downtown Fargo on Jan. 4, 2022. Residents can comment on a master plan for the city's oldest park at a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 17.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — A master plan is underway to provide a vision for what Fargo's first park and downtown oasis may become in the upcoming years.

Already residents have been offering suggestions on what they'd like to see in Island Park and more opportunities lie ahead, including an initial public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Robert D. Johnson Recreation Center at 1104 2nd Ave. S.

That gathering will follow two days of design workshops by the AGL Landscape Architects and RDG Planning and Design where project manager and architect Brett Gurhult said a team will meet with park stakeholders such as the tennis and swim clubs and the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre to come up with concepts and options of what could be done soon and over the next 20 years.

On the public engagement website some of the suggestions so far include:

  • Making the pool bathhouse into a four-season facility so a year-round farmers market could be held.
  • More bathrooms and water fountains in areas of the park.
  • Reducing the size of the west side parking lot.
  • Preserving the cement wall at the north end of the pool that is a remnant of an arena that previously stood on the site.
  • Adding more tennis courts.
  • More signage to inform residents and visitors about the history of the park, trees and animals.
  • Adding a dog park.
  • Adding a coffee cafe.
  • More seating areas in the park.
  • Replace some grassy areas with native prairie grass and plantings.

Over the past two years, residents have been providing input on the park district's plan to spend about $16.5 million to replace the almost 45-year-old Island Park pool, with demolition slated for this fall and construction starting next year.

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The Island Park pool in downtown Fargo is seen covered in snow on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum

The pool is expected to prompt much discussion as preliminary plans have already been developed after several public meetings and surveys.

Some of the suggestions from residents so far on the project have been to preserve the historic nature of the pool, keep the larger-sized pool to allow for continued swimming competitions, add a lazy river and water slides, build a splash pad, revamp and expand the bathhouse, keep a diving board well, offer more green space within the pool area and expand the concessions area.

The park district board delayed the start to the pool reconstruction from this year to 2023 because they believed a master plan for the park should be completed first.

The theater group, Gurhult said, is also discussing what to do with its structure on the park's east side, which suffered roof damage and only recently had its insurance claim approved so they can rebuild. There is talk that the theater might want to construct a smaller outdoor amphitheater in the park for its productions.

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The fenced-off Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre building in Island Park is pictured Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. The theater's future is among the issues to be considered in a new master plan for Fargo's first park.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

The upcoming timeline for the master plan is to have a draft and proposed phases ready in March with another public meeting in April and then the final plan to the park board for its approval in May.

Besides seeking residents' visions for the park at the website islandpark.mindmixer.com, the park district asks a series of questions including what are residents' favorite park activities, what amenities should be considered and what mode of transportation is used most frequently to visit the park.

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The north end of Fargo's Island Park.
David Samson / The Forum
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Island Park's gazebo is the site of weddings and other gatherings throughout the year.
Photo courtesy of the Fargo Park District

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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