Outdoor enthusiasts looking to spend time in some of Fergus Falls’ parks may want to reconsider a trip to Barefoot Park, located at the end of St. Andrew’s Street by Quality Toyota, alongside the Otter Tail River. With demolition and cleanup underway at the Mid-Am Dairy property park maintenance crews have lost access to Barefoot Park.
As a result, some visitors to the park have noticed broken glass, no trash cans, garbage strewn on the ground and in the fire pit and overgrown grass, leading to complaint calls to the parks department.
“We have received a couple of concerned calls about that park,” Len Taylor, director of Fergus Falls Public Works says. “The crossing there at the railroad tracks at St. Andrew’s is a crossing that the railroad says we can’t use, so the only access to the park is from the east through the dairy property and right now that’s in its demo phase, they’re taking that building down, so we haven’t been doing anything down there because there’s no approved access.”
In the past, the crew has been able to access the park through the Mid-Am Dairy site to help keep it maintained. “Through last year, we tried to get through there through the dairy property to do some mowing because there wasn’t really any construction or anything going on, so we were able to sneak into it through the past years,” Mick Johnson, parks supervisor, says. “We’ll probably try to get in there with the ditch bank mower, the rough cut mower, and try to knock grass down a couple of times, but it’s something I’ve been told, basically, we’re not going to be able to do much in there this year.” They’ll also try to get out there to clean up some of the trash.
“It’s not that we forgot about the park,” Johnson says. “It’s just that right now it’s so inaccessible to any of our equipment ... that we haven’t done anything with it this summer.”
Fergus Falls has about two dozen parks and amenities available to people looking for an outdoor area to host picnics or spend time in the sun. Near Barefoot park, on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and College Way and beside the Otter Tail County Historical Society, is Van Dyk Park which also has a picnic shelter, tables and playground equipment. Further west on Lincoln Avenue, down Kennedy Park Road, is Kennedy Park Nature Area. Also on the Otter Tail River, the park features a tree nursery with paths and slopes.