Getting to know the local government Elected officials maintain beauty of riverside parks

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New landscaping around this restroom in Ingleside Park was completed in 2017, and this year the park board plans to renovate the restroom to make it handicap accessibile. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Five community members look after Guttenberg’s two miles of park bordering the mighty Mississippi. The parks are a hallmark of the city, serving as venues for community events, family gatherings, and places for exercise or rest and relaxation. 

Mary Streich, board chair, is serving her third term. Other members include Helene Kuempel, Beth Sadewasser, John Hess, Caroline Rosacker and council representative Austin Greve. “The current board members bring a wide diversity of ideas that need to be discussed as a team. Together we work toward the vision of maintaining a beautiful area for the city residents and visitors that come to our community,” said the chair.

Board members are elected to serve four-year terms and are responsible for maintenance and operation of the river front park from Koerner Street to Broadway Street, Triangle Park and Big Springs nature park on Great River Road. The board may regulate or forbid erection of poles or wires in its parks, and is allowed to acquire or sell real estate for park purposes with approval from the city council. Board members may also vote to lease portions of parks to organizations for 10 days or less, or for professional games up to six months in length. The board also has jurisdiction over facilities in the parks, such as shelters and restrooms. Meetings are held on the last Tuesday of the month. 

“It is the goal of park board to continue maintaining a quiet park atmosphere and to dedicate ourselves to making the beauty of our scenic parks one of the important reasons as to why people will want to visit and live in our community,” Streich added.

In late summer of 2017, the park board removed shrubs and overgrowth around the former Corp of Engineer's restroom and replaced them with shade-loving hostas, adding a 25-year weed barrier and landscaping with river rock. In 2018, the board plans to upgrade the restrooms to make them handicap accessible. 

Other ongoing projects include meeting with the Guttenberg Rotary Club with regard to Big Springs nature park. Rotarians have cleared trees, brush and shrubs on the north side of the entrance and have posted signs. According to the park board, Rotarians are currently working with Pheasants Forever to plant the area with grasses and wildflowers. The local FFA chapter will assist in clearing safe walking trails, adding a bridge near the waterfalls and marking endangered plants with signage.

In 2018, the board has made the 600 block of River Park Drive a priority and plans to fill, level and seed the former Waterman property to make it even with the rest of the park. Planters have been purchased for the block. 

The board recently completed a controlled burn along the riverbank on the 400 block to enhance the river view. Board members expect to complete cleaning and painting remaining park benches, a project started by the Jefferson Go-Hawks 4-H club last year. 

Work with the historical preservation commission in restoring the Wolter Indian Monument on the 400 block will continue this year, and the park board will assist with signage for park landmarks such as the cannon, the large maroon-colored rock, and the birdhouse to educate visitors on the history of each item. 

Helene Kuempel, a member of the Ingleside Club, began attending park board meetings as a liason to the club. She’s now beginning her second term as an official park board member. “It is very encouraging to see that community members have shown an interest in serving on the board in recent years,” said Kuempel. “I am a retired nurse who also served as a safety manger in two previous employments; I still have the energy and passion to serve the community.”

“Our challenge is that our park board budget comes out of the General Fund which also has to support many other departments within our community, so there are limited funds for park projects," said Streich. "We are always open to individual and organizational donations for park projects.”

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