County OKs use of Spicer park for ninja warrior event
SPICER -- On a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners agreed to let a nonprofit organization use a portion of the county parking lot in Spicer for three days in June for an obstacle course contest fashioned after the TV show America...
SPICER –– On a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners agreed to let a nonprofit organization use a portion of the county parking lot in Spicer for three days in June for an obstacle course contest fashioned after the TV show American Ninja Warrior.
The event will raise money for Grace Place, a nonprofit, faith-based residential program for women that opened a year ago in Willmar. Organizer Jane Vikse told the Commissioners the family-friendly event would attract competitors, vendors and observers from a wide region and give local tourism a big boost.
Participants will pay an entry fee to leap, grapple, climb, flip and spin over a physically demanding obstacle course in a race against the clock and other contestants.
The money raised will be used to support programs at Grace Place.
“We’re not asking for any money, but for a location to raise our own money,” Vikse said.
But getting the county’s approval to use the parking lot was a tough sell.
County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he wholeheartedly supports Grace Place and the fundraising event, but he did not endorse using county property for the activity.
Kleindl said the county typically denies requests for special events to be held at the county park and parking lot, which is on Green Lake.
Giving exclusive use of the property to an organization for three days would limit the public’s use, he said.
Commissioner Harlan Madsen, who cast the only no vote, said he said it would be “dangerous” to set a precedent that would force the county to “pick and choose” which entity could hold events there.
But County Commissioner Roger Imdieke said the county already does that.
He said the Grace Place event is no different than the Fourth of July activities or marathon that has received the county’s blessing in the past to use the site.
Imdieke said the Sonshine Christian music festival had been held on public property for years and there has been “wringing of hands” because the event left Willmar.
Imdieke said it would be a “terrible message” to deny a request for an event that could bring hundreds of people to the county’s key tourist community.
Commissioner Doug Reese said he was concerned about traffic flow if the parking lot was used and asked about alternative locations.
Spicer Mayor Denny Baker said another site across the street was considered but would present safety problems for people crossing busy County Road 10 to get to the lake.
Imdieke said he would’ve been reluctant to support the request if the event was scheduled for July. But he said the June 12-14 timeframe of the event shouldn’t interfere with recreational use of the lake or county park.
Sheriff Dan Hartog said he would work with organizers to make sure there was adequate security.
Chairman Jim Butterfield said the county may need to develop a policy to address future requests.
Vikse said the event will feature six or seven pieces of specially-made American Ninja Warrior equipment, estimated to cost $60,000.
Volunteers and financial sponsors are being sought.
At least 100 contestants - either individuals or teams - are being sought to compete.
Vikse hopes to host the contest annually as a fundraiser for Grace Place.
How they voted
Yes: Roger Imdieke, Rollie Nissen and Doug Reese
No: Harlan Madsen