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A new welcome: City, Rotary to freshen up entrance to Robbins Island in Willmar

Shelby Lindrud / Tribune The city of Willmar, with help and funding from Willmar Rotary, are planning a facelift for entrance to the Robbins Island. Plans include a new sign, plantings and three flagpoles.

WILLMAR — Following its successful run of four Rockin' Robbins concerts this summer, the Willmar Rotary has decided where the proceeds from the concerts will go. The civic organization wants to help beautify the entrance to Robbins Island, including a new sign, plantings and three flagpoles.

"Rotary is committed to the beautification of Robbins Island," said Steve Brisendine, director of Willmar Community Education and Recreation and also a Rotary member himself.

A preliminary plan was presented during the Sept. 5 Willmar City Council meeting.

"We've got some conceptual art of what we would like to do at the entrance to the park," Brisendine said.

The push to redesign the entrance to the park dates back several months, since the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall came to the park last summer.

"We've been working on this for the better part of a year," Brisendine said.

City staff and Rotary are working with Stacy's Nursery, SRF Consulting, Uncommon USA and Quick Signs on the project.

Brisendine said Stacy's Nursery is offering a good price for the landscapings and plantings, while Uncommon USA and Quick Signs are also discounting their products. Uncommon USA will be installing three new flagpoles at the entrance, one 50 feet high, the other two 35 feet high. Quick Signs will be providing the new Robbins Island Regional Park sign, though an actual design for that is still in the works.

"We have near a $24,000 project," Brisendine said.

When it comes to the design of the park sign, the council has had previous discussions about the need for a more unified look with the city's signs.

"I feel we need some Willmar identification in it," Councilor Audrey Nelsen said.

The idea of having the public involved in the design process has also been talked about.

"Make Robbins Island the people's park," Councilor Fernando Alvarado said.

City Administrator Ike Holland said while he agrees with the need to brand the city better, the more immediate need is replacing the signs that are starting to wear down.

"The uniformity we have right now is green and falling. We need to replace that," Holland said, adding discussions and decisions on a new logo and city signage will be coming.

Brisendine said the hope is to have the new entrance at Robbins Island completed by spring 2018, in time for the busy season at the park.

"We're very honored to have Rotary make this offer to enhance Robbins Island," Holland said.

The council approved a motion to support the project. A more detailed plan will be brought to the council once it becomes available.

"I think it's an exciting time in Willmar. People are making an investment into the city and we need to take advantage of that and keep the momentum going," said Councilor Shawn Mueske.