Willmar Metropolis Council offers go-ahead for out of doors health courtroom grant utility – West Central Tribune


WILLMAR – The Willmar City Council gave the green light for the city of Willmar to seek a grant to build an outdoor fitness facility in the city at its December 19, 2022 meeting.

Community Operations Director Kyle Box told the Willmar City Council that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota National Fitness Campaign identified Willmar as a priority site for building an outdoor fitness facility.

“This is really thanks to continued efforts across the community to expand our parks, trails and recreational opportunities,” Box said.

Willmar is one of four locations across the state classified as a Priority 1 location, according to a map provided to the council. Other locations include Duluth, Rochester and Winona. There are currently two Blue Cross and Blue Shield outdoor fitness facilities in Minnesota, located in Waite Park and Worthington.

Councilman Andrew Plowman noted that Waite Park has worked long and hard to secure funding for its outdoor fitness facility, so it is a good thing BCBS has identified Willmar as a priority one location.

The cost of building an outdoor fitness facility is estimated at around $235,000 and the grant would total up to $50,000. According to Box, local partners can donate money or in-kind contributions to help mitigate the cost of the project.

He also pointed out that $160,000 has been set aside in the Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Fund in 2023 that can be used to build the courthouse.

The city has identified potential locations for the outdoor fitness facility, one of which is Sperry Park, located off Business Highway 71 at Homewood Avenue Northeast and Porto Rico Street.

“One of the best judging criteria of this grant – it has to be visible from the street,” Box said. “We have not yet finalized this decision. Of course we want to weigh all of our options and make sure we make the right choice as to where this gym could go.”

Included in the pack, which was provided to councilors, were examples of outdoor fitness space designs. According to Box, a single plaza is roughly a 38-by-38-foot square with seven different stations for different activities.

A second option, which expands the footprint to a 38 x 76 foot square, adds a flat portion to the plaza for a gym/yoga surface for various open activities.

This graphic shows the location concept of an outdoor fitness space that includes an outdoor studio for things like yoga classes.

Contributed / City of Willmar

“It’s a really interesting, really unique idea,” Box said. “There is an aspect within this funding process of also collaborating with local artists to create something that truly identifies or embraces the culture of Willmar.”

Mayor Marv Calvin urged the council to adequately compensate any artist recruited to help with the project.

A graphic image showing the murals on various outdoor fitness venues across the United States.

This graphic shows various renditions of what artists have painted at outdoor gyms across the United States.

Contributed / City of Willmar

“Willmar is blessed with a wonderful art community, and one of the things I think we really undersell ourselves as a community is that we don’t value our artists enough and reward them appropriately for the work they do “, he said. “If we get this right, people are going to go to Willmar just for this piece and just to see how it’s put together.”