Getting to know local government Recreation board hard at work

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Planned updates for the Darwin Duwe little league field and surrounding area include improved parking, playground equipment, a new fence in the outfield and potentially even a skate park. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Editor’s note: This story concludes an 11-week series of features highlighting city boards and committees to educate readers about the workings of local government. 

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The Guttenberg recreation board oversees ongoing programs, operations and maintenance of the Guttenberg Swimming Pool and Horseshoe Pond Park area, Darwin Duwe Memorial Field and the Old Golf Course Park, familiarly known as Vet’s Field and the adjacent soccer field.  

Guttenberg native Bec Knudtson is in her fourth term on the city’s recreation board and is currently serving as chairperson. “All our board members have come from various age groups and backgrounds so that provides for the ability of the board to see situations from more than one aspect,” she told The Press. Board members, who are appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council for three-year terms, are Al Ullerich, Jen Radl, Jason Hefel, and Alex Finch, with council representation from Jane Parker. 

Board members meet the last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m., in the city council chambers in the winter and at the various recreational areas it oversees during warmer weather. The board makes recommendations to the city council about fees and charges for facility use and recreation programs, as well as about rules and regulations for use of the pool and other facilities and programs. The board also conducts program evaluations and makes a report to the council annually, along with its budget requirements.

“Last year, we were finally able to build a new concession stand at Vet’s field, the city’s south ball field. We had been trying for several years to get the funding for this project and thanks to the cooperation between the city and volunteers in the community, we were able to get it done,” Knudtson said. 

In 2018, the recreation board plans to update and repaint the outfield advertising signs at Vet’s Field. 

“At Darwin Duwe field, we are working on an overall plan that includes better parking, updated playground equipment, an outfield fence and a potential skate park,” explained Knudtson. 

“Just as the new concession stand at Vet’s field was a result of people working together, any new projects will also take that cooperation. The new Guttenberg pool project started with discussion at a rec board meeting and grew into a community project led by a group of determined individuals,” said Knudtson. “We also have interest in a skate park and that project too will need cooperation among several entities.” 

Last fall, the city council approved exploration of grant funding for a cement pad that would accommodate the city’s existing skate park equipment, which has been in storage for the past several years for lack of a permanent location. The proposed location for the skate park is in the flat area south of Darwin Duwe field and west of the adjacent playground, which required approval from Army Corps of Engineers because of its status as a natural ponding area. To help out with this project, please contact Molly Moser at mmoser@guttenbergpress.com.

Knudtson says the biggest challenge the recreation board faces is financial. “We have a budget that we have to work with and we always have more projects and ideas than we do money,” she said. “All rec projects can be helped with volunteer labor and monetary contributions.”

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