Growing up in the city of Big Lake for the first 25 years of my life, we found plenty to do as kids around the neighborhood.
We had trails through the woods along Brom Lane and Tarrytown Road, we rollerbladed along the sidewalks of Hwy. 25 to friends’ houses and we walked around Big and Mitchell Lakes for exercise.
It has been almost 15 years since I actively indulged the great outdoors of Big Lake, but venturing out and finding “what to do” outside now, is even easier.
Are you aware the city and township of Big Lake have over 18 residential parks along with Lakeside Park and the Lions Park?
Located north off Co. Rd 5, the Lions Park is comprised of 32 acres and is open 8 a. m. to 10 p. m. daily to all residents.
The park provides a ball field, access to the Elk River along with a canoe launch, activity trails, a brand new playground and roofed picnic areas, all free of charge.
“Since we installed the new playground in the last year there are always people out here, literally every day,” says Big Lake Township Clerk Laura Hayes. (The township office is located at the Lions Park.)
16 Big Lake Chamber Community Guide 2011-12
Reservations are also available for rental of the township hall on a first come, first serve basis.
“We’ve had a ton of graduation parties here this year,” she says. “But it is busy year round.”
Lions Park trails provide over a mile with all three trails. Lions Park and the township hall was dedicated in August
of 1992 and represented a gift worth over $300,000 from the Lions to the township.
One of the minds behind the project years ago was Norm Leslie, who said “At first we were thinking of building strictly a park for the community. Dennis Wold and myself were happy to negotiate the purchase of this river property. But then we started thinking about a meeting place for the Lions and Lioness.”
Lakeside Park For over 50 years the beach located at Big Lake, now
known as Lakeside Park, has been a entertaining outdoor resource for residents and out-of-towners.
It was owned by MnDot before the city took it over. Resident John Moshier has always remembered the Big Lake beach as a fun place to go.
“They used to have a fire ring out there, I remember loading 55 gallon drums for the buoys,” he says.
“It was nice, it always has been.”
Now a getaway “hotspot” even for out-of-towners, the Lakeside Park has seen plenty of action in the past year as 15,014 vehicles entered the park while attendants were on duty.
Along with the lake providing swimming and boating activities, the park also installed a new playground, has volleyball courts, a skateboarding park and in the winter a skate rink along with ice fishing opportunities.
“We also treat the lake two times a year for swimmer’s itch,” says Mike Goebel of Big Lake Public Works.
Goebel reported in 2010 2,063 hours were spent on maintenance of all the city parks along with 640 hours of skate rink maintenance.
“Big Lake really has great resources,” he says. Treatments of the lake along with shoreline restoration is
provided through grant money provided through the state. In 2010 $22,700 was received for lake treatments. “Applying for the grants is an on-going process,” explained
Goebel. “But it’s provided our residents with great parks.” Residential Parks
Since the residential growth of Big Lake boomed in the last 15 years, 18 parks came along with the new neighborhoods. (See map on facing page.)
“The developers are usually the ones to install a lot of the parks within the neighborhoods,” explained Goebel.
Future Parks In the near future, Goebel says the park committee is looking into the installation of outdoor exercise equipment along the trail at Lakeside Park.
There have also been discussions of a dog park located along Hwy. 10 and Hudson Wood Park as a future opportunity.