First District Association will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding later this year, and it’s making plans for some public ways to celebrate.
Two of those ideas received support from Litchfield City Council last week.
The bigger of the plans is creation of a dairy-themed playground in South Park, located just across West Ripley Street to the south of First District’s campus.
Troy Gassman, engineering project manager at First District, explained the idea for the playground at last week’s City Council meeting, saying that the cooperative wanted to make an initial contact with the City Council before moving ahead.
Initial plans call for the playground to be constructed in the southeast corner of South Park.
Parts and construction would cost $115,714.84, according to an estimate from Flagship Recreation of Lake Elmo, which was included in the council’s agenda packet
Playground structures would include one that resembles a milk truck and another that resembles a barn. Other play items would be swings, and seesaws and rocking features shaped like farm implements and cattle.
“I’m impressed with it,” Council member Betty Allen said after seeing drawings of the features and playground location.
Gassman said that First District planned to finance construction, but welcomed input from the city. He also indicated an interest in a kind of “community build,” similar to other playground construction in the city.
In the case of the South Park playground, Gassman said, the playground equipment company would come in an put up the main support posts, and First District employees would then walk over and work on the construction.
Depending on how quickly planning moves forward, Gassman said, the playground could be completed by September.
City Administrator Dave Cziok told the City Council that city staff saw no conflict with the playground construction at South Park.
The playground would be the latest upgrade at the park, which saw construction of a pickleball complex last summer. First District Association was one of several businesses that contributed to that project, as well.
Until the cows come home
Gassman and Council members Darlene Kotelnicki and Betty Allen — who represented the Litchfield Downtown Council — also received approval from the City Council for a project aimed at promoting First District, as well as raising funds for nonprofit organizations in the area.
First District will purchase 17 fiberglass cows — eight adults and nine calves — which will be given to nonprofit organizations, who will decorate them. The cows then will be position throughout downtown and other areas and displayed through the summer. As summer comes to an end, on Aug. 26, the cows will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the nonprofits who decorated the cows.
The so-called “Downtown Cow Town” project is a collaboration between the Litchfield Downtown Council and First District, Kotelnicki said. She said it’s hoped people will use maps created by the Downtown Council to find each of the cows and that it will be a community activity, as well as a kind of tourist attraction, similar to the Snoopy statues that dotted St. Paul several years ago, or decorated buffalo that can be found in Buffalo.