New Shelter Caps ‘Year of Parks’
The recent completion of a handsome new picnic shelter in West Twin Park, built from a kit by local volunteers, brings to a conclusion Webster City’s “year of the parks.”
During 2021, in some of the most trying times of the Covid 19 pandemic, Webster City looked to two of its traditional strong suits; its parks and a strong spirit of volunteerism by its residents.
Throughout 2021 city staff and local volunteers made improvements to virtually every one of the city’s parks; an impressive accomplishment for any year.
Work on the open pavilion-style structure in West Twin Park was finished in Mid-April; signifying the end of the city-wide park improvements projects. The building was manufactured and sold in kit form by Cedar Forest Products of West Olive Michigan, assembled at the factory to ensure it fit together properly, then disassembled and shipped to Webster City.
Cost of the kit was $113,440. Roofing materials, which weren’t included in the kit, were purchased at Lamperts Lumber Co in Webster City. The new shelter replaces a similar, smaller, and older building at the park’s southwest corner, which was demolished in fall 2020. Used by several generations of Webster Citians for family get-togethers, it was also the site for well-remembered summer performances of the city band.
Many local people and companies contributed materials and labor to finish the new shelter. A list of them, provided to the Daily Freeman Journal from several sources, is shown in the adjacent box. Their volunteer contributions and labor saved an estimated $60,000, which is what a contractor might have charged to build the structure, according to Larry Flaws, director of Recreation and Public Grounds. At a time when the city budget was hard-hit by covid-19-related expenses, the volunteer effort allowed completion of the building in time for this spring’s graduation receptions and events throughout summer and fall.
The new shelter, measuring 64 feet by 36 feet, is larger than its predecessor, and nearer the center of the park. Built of beautiful, durable cedar and topped with a copper-like metal roof, the shelter affords a “weather-proof” outing at picnic tables under the roof. A kitchenette with sink, hot and cold water, and plenty of electrical outlets — everything required to lay on an outdoor meal — serves the pavilion through two roll-up counter-height doors.
Restrooms on the shelter’s north side are open to the public during normal park operating hours. The shelter can be rented for a half day (either 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) for $38.50, payable in advance. An entire day from 11 a.m. through 10 p.m. can be reserved for $77. Bookings are managed by Fuller Hall, and can be made by calling 515-832-9193.
Flaws reports public interest in renting the pavilion is high, with many events for 2022 already scheduled.
A study published in the journal Land in 2020 showed outdoor recreation increased 20 percent in the United States during the pandemic, with more than half of all adults taking exercise outdoors at least once a month.
RIGHT IN STEP
Webster City is right in step with this trend; making improvements to nearly all the city’s parks during 2021. These include not only upgrades to equipment and facilities already in place, but entirely new facilities, equipment, and ways to use and enjoy them.
The most visible changes are in East Twin Park where a new playground with slides, swings and climbing apparatus was installed. Next to the brightly-colored playground is a complete outdoor fitness facility with stationary bicycles, step trainers, a “fitness rope,” pull-up bars, set of three plyometric steps, even a set of tai chi spinners. The skate park, more welcoming since its enclosure fence was removed, is next door. Final upgrades to East Twin Park will be made this year when a new outdoor pickleball court is finished, and rebuilding of public restrooms completed. With all facilities in East Twin reached by new, smooth and level concrete sidewalks, the park is now 100 percent accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
Grading, footings, materials and labor for these sidewalks were donated by Habhab Construction, which also donated materials and labor for the new sidewalks at Wilson Brewer Park in 2021.
“Jeff Habhab is a ‘super hero volunteer’ whose gifts to our parks will last a generation,” notes Flaws.
Joining this effort was Schlotfeldt Engineering, which donated surveying work for the new sidewalks at East Twin Park.
Also in 2021, a large playground structure for Nokomis Park, was bought in kit form from Boland Recreation, Marshalltown. Assembly was completed by city staff from all departments, saving an estimated $25,000.
At Kendall Young Park the historic limestone entrance gates were re-pointed, and new roofing put on three of the park’s shelters. Lion’s Park got new concrete sidewalks providing easy access to the previously-installed ADA-accessible playground. In Wilson Brewer Park, six preserved historic buildings were connected by new concrete sidewalks.
A $2,000 grant from Marion-based Trees Forever helped pay for new trees, which were carefully selected by Assistant Director Recreation and Public Grounds Breann Lesher as part of a long-range plan to enhance the parks’ landscaping. The grant specifically required the involvement of students in planting the donated trees. The 26 new trees paid for with this money were eagerly planted last fall by second-graders, assisted and supervised by high school peers.
Joining yet another nationwide trend, Webster City arranged for 10 rental bicycles to be placed at Brewer Creek Park and Riverside Park; five at each location. The bright orange bikes were provided by Pocahontas-based Koloni Inc, which calls itself “a sharing platform enabling users to own and deploy their own smart lockers, bike share and scooters.” Rentals can be booked on the Koloni app, and cost $2 per hour. Bicycles may be rented or left at either location in Webster City.
As spring turns to summer and you plan your own special afternoon in the parks, remember to thank the many volunteers who help make it possible. Better yet, why not phone the Recreation and Public Grounds department on 832.9193 and ask how you can volunteer your own time and talents?
THAT PARK ISSUE
An unsolicited bid to buy East Twin Park for a new retail store on the site in early 2020, mobilized and energized Webster Citians to demonstrate how much the park meant to them.
Powered by local organizers, several GoFundMe and Enhance Hamilton County accounts, and a generous matching grant from Wellmark Foundation, the park has been substantially rebuilt and has more to offer visitors than at any time in its long history.
East Twin Park seemed to serve as a catalyst for a program of park upgrades unprecedented in Webster City.
In addition to earmarked funds in each year’s city budget, even during the pandemic, and dedicated city staff, volunteers have always played a large and important role.
Here’s a list of known volunteers who helped finish the new West Twin Park picnic shelter. It’s likely not a complete list; apologies to those whose names may inadvertently have been left out.
Ashley & Lance Dinsdale
Jeff Habhab (and crew of Habhab Construction Inc.)
Amilcar Vasquez (and crew of A+Roofing)
Jerry & Steve Wells