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Aitkin City Park Committee Presented Concept Maps and Facilitated Community Engagement at the Aitkin County Fair
12/22/22 by Aitkin County SHIP Coordinator

Comprehensive and inclusive park planning addresses improved access to parks, trails, greenways, and open spaces, and provides opportunities for physical activity, especially for communities experiencing the greatest barriers to access.

 

The City of Aitkin Park Committee has embarked on just this kind of planning effort. The mission of the committee is to enhance the quality of life for community members by providing well-maintained parks and public places, preserving open space, caring for people, prioritizing safety, and strengthening the bonds of community. 

One engagement activity invited community members to consider how they would invest funds in the park. Six imitation dollars were handed out to each participant, who then had to choose categories such as an iconic playground, trails, and an outdoor classroom to deposit their money into. Another opportunity for feedback occurred at the Aitkin County Fair this past July, when over 200 people viewed 3 proposed concept maps and voted for their favorite, with concept number three receiving the most votes.

The next steps in this project will be to host a final input session. Confluence will be coming to Aitkin to facilitate this on January 25, 2023. The Park Committee is inviting community members and anyone with vested interest in this project to be part of the discussion. The goal is to gather at the table to determine a preferred concept map together. Confluence will present the final concept to the city council by spring of 2023. With this roadmap in place to help our community visualize what the park can become, the work of securing funding opportunities and implementing pieces of the map will begin. 

Event Funders:

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Pictures taken by Oliva Johnson with Aitkin Independent Age
Confluence Visits Aitkin to Start Planning! 

Two Aitkin City Park meetings on June 8 included the park committee and two employees of the Minneapolis-based landscape architect firm Confluence, Jena Stanton and Nicholas Bad Heart Bull. Confluence lists Stanton with “extensive experience with urban design, planning, commercial, civic and mixed-use projects.” Bad Heart Bull is described as “passionate about understanding how we interact with the built and natural environments, and using more holistic methods to solve many of the problems we face.”

The day’s first meeting was located at the city park for a thorough walk-through of the grounds. “Just spending some time here is our goal,” said Stanton. There are topographical maps of the park and aerial pictures, but another way to get a feel for the landscape is by walking the park. During the walk, Confluence representatives took pictures of the playground equipment, benches and scenery and discussed related topics.

The second meeting focused on “the vision and what we call the guiding principles,” said Stanton. As Stanton reviewed the answers to the questions from the May 31 park meeting, she had some questions of her own to ask the committee. One of the questions was about reassessing Aitkin’s Central Park. “People don’t know it exists,” said Aitkin Mayor Megan Workman. The committee and Confluence are working together toward a concept plan for the park. “People physically want to see something,” said committee member Amanda Lowe.

A few exercises were arranged for the meeting participants to relay what is important for them during the park upgrades. “This is a great way for me to get information from you,” said Stanton. One activity included dot stickers to place on a participant’s preferred picture, another was a dollar spending activity and the last consisted of “I feel” statements and how much participants agreed with those statements about the park. Some of these activities will be replicated to gather community input at the 2022 Aitkin County Fair to be held July 6-9.

The City of Aitkin Contracts with Confluence to Develop a Concept Map on Aitkin City Park!
12/22/22 by Aitkin County SHIP Coordinator

This project wouldn't be possible without the funding by Aitkin County CARE with the Building Resilient Inclusive Communities (BRIC) funding and the Aitkin County SHIP Program. The BRIC grant ($15,286.00) and SHIP grant ($4,714.00) helped pay for the service by Confluence to develop a concept map of Aitkin City Park. 

Confluence is a professional creative firm of landscape architects, urban designers and planners with roots across the country but has an office out of Minneapolis Minnesota. They believe in the transformative power of creative collaboration with a genuine approach - bringing together people, ideas and our creative process to shape the future of our communities.

Project description includes providing the City of Aitkin landscape architectural services providing master planning services, based upon the following description of the project. The project will consist of the development of a City Park Master Plan that will include site landscape, amenities, outdoor gathering space, parking lots, pedestrian circulation, courts, structures, seating, natural areas, play areas open lawn and other park features. The site work will include the grading concepts, landscape, hardscape, walls, stairs, stormwater, and lighting concepts.  

Furthermore, Confluence will produce plans, graphic renderings, and models to illustrate the City of Aitkin's plan and provide rough cost estimates to implement these amenities. Together, will work with current amenities, Community Fieldhouse and other features that come out in the process.  

Project Funders:

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