Fleckenstein Bluffs Park

Amenities are on their way to the new Fleckenstein Bluffs Park in Faribault, located on a portion of the former city public works building site. Projects being prepared for the area include a picnic shelter and bathroom building and a scenic overlook. (File photo/southernminn.com)

The new Fleckenstein Bluffs Park in Faribault continues to become fully realized as the city council took two additional steps to bring important amenities to the area.

During the meeting on Tuesday evening, the Faribault City Council unanimously awarded a contract to construct a picnic shelter and restroom building in the park, as well as approve the plans and begin the bidding process for a river overlook.

The new park is located on the corner of 7th Street and 1st Avenue and is a portion of the former city public works building site.

Paul Peanasky, the parks and recreation director for the city, explained to the council that the lowest bid for the picnic shelter and restroom building came in approximately $41,500 higher than the original estimate, coming in at $316,855. He said they plan on working with the contractor – Healy Construction Co., Inc. out of Faribault – to try to identify potential changes to reduce the overall cost of the project.

“Possibly this could include going back to a single restroom,” Peanasky said, noting that the original discussion of the project included just one bathroom in the design.

Councilor Peter van Sluis questioned whether there were any requirements to ensure the city is in compliance with the American Disabilities Act, wondering if they had to have a certain number of bathrooms based on the projected traffic in the park. City Administrator Tim Murray said there was no such standard in place.

“There is no requirement to have restrooms in a park – it is a convenience,” Murray said. “The only requirements are if there is a restroom it will certainly be fully accessible.”

Councilor Janna Viscomi said after she went down to the new park area and realized the actual small size of the park’s footprint that she feels it would be reasonable to adjust the design to a single bathroom, especially considering the bathrooms that are being added to the proposed Viaduct Area Park a short distance away.

Councilors Royal Ross and Sara Caron said they would prefer to keep the design with two bathrooms, to which Mayor Kevin Voracek agreed that would be ideal.

“But if we can’t afford it, we can’t afford,” Voracek added.

Murray reminded that council that at this time they are simply awarding the contract and that any changes to the design will be brought back to the council for approval.

With the new overlook, which is positioned to be built on the northwest corner of the park, the council shared excitement for what the structure will bring to the area. Peanasky said the intent was to provide a “scenic outlook” area for park visitors to take pictures of the sand-rock bluffs west of the site.

The tentative schedule for the overlook project is to begin construction in late July and have it completed by December.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @AnnieGranlund. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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