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Fundraisers not allowed in Kandiyohi Co. parks

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Even though a group's intentions may be good, the Kandiyohi County Board Commissioners agreed this week that community fundraisers involving the sale of merchandise, food or services should not take place in county parks.

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County Administrator Larry Kleindl told the commissioners on Tuesday that he has received numerous calls this year from nonprofit organizations seeking to use County Park 4 on Green Lake's Saulsbury Beach in Spicer as a fundraising location to sell food, T-shirts and car washes.

The county has had an unwritten policy that vending not take place on county property.

In Spicer there are year-round commercial businesses near the park that are concerned that summertime sales of fundraising items by community groups could cut into their regular business, Kleindl said.

He has been telling groups they could not sell items at the park but wanted to make sure the commissioners agreed with his actions so that he could provide consistent information to organizations.

"You're handling it fine," said Chairman Dean Shuck, voicing the unanimous approval of the board, which did not take any formal action on the issue.

There may still be options for fundraisers to be held in that area along Green Lake because the city of Spicer also owns park property there that abuts the county park -- making it look like one park.

The county segment includes the swimming beach, a small sliver of green space where the bath house is located and the entire parking lot located next to Melvin's restaurant, which is a coveted location for community activities.

The city owns the rest of the large stretch of green space to the north.

Kleindl said there has been some confusion on the city's part regarding the property line, in part because the county provides all the maintenance, like mowing and garbage pickup, for the city park property at an annual cost of $13,000 to $14,000 a year. During Spicer's July 4 festivities alone, the county bill is $2,500 for garbage pickup in the Saulsbury Beach park area.

Kleindl said organizations would have to get the OK from Spicer about conducting fundraisers on the city side of the park and that efforts should be made to coordinate those events with the county.

Kleindl said the county makes the park, and more importantly the parking lot, available for a wide variety of community events, like this month's triathlon, the antique car run and the New London-Spicer prom.

But he said the county has tried to be careful not to allow transactions that could be in direct competition with local businesses. Deviating from that practice would take board approval.

Board members also said they do not allow the county parking lot to be blocked off for private events such as family reunions or wedding receptions held in Spicer.

"We want to let the people who own the park use the park. And the public owns it," Kleindl said.

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