History of Mission Township Recreation Area and Park
In 1959 39 acres of land were sold to Mission Township for $1.00. The Mission Township Board evaluated its needs and resources and viewed the parcel as an asset that should be maintained for its natural beauty and also utilized by residents for recreation. A portion of the site was once used as a landfill/transfer station prior to the acquisition.
In 1979 the Board passed a resolution to establish the site as the “Mission Township Recreation Area.” The Board wanted to preserve the natural beauty of the site and fulfill a Township need, the need being to develop a safe, well planned park environment for structured and non-structured leisure time activities. In addition to providing a focal point for community and family gatherings, the site would be readily accessible to the communities of central Crow Wing County.
A secondary benefit of the park was to stimulate area tourism. It was thought that recreational facilities would attract additional visitors and groups to Mission Township and increase tourism dollars for local businesses.
In 1979 the Township developed and adopted a “Master Development Plan” for the recreation site. The detailed plan laid out the physical features and needs of the recreation area. With initial funding from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), the Township was able to start the initial development of the recreation area. In 1987 the Township developed and adopted a Five-Year Improvement Plan to complete the Master Development Plan that was adopted in 1979 and revised in 1983.
During the 1980’s the following items were constructed and added at the park: pavilion, parking lot, picnic tables, horseshoe pits, forest toilets, volleyball/badminton court, unimproved baseball field, cooking grills, swings and slides, sandbox, well and pumphouse, and utility storage building. In early 1990 the Township applied for another grant from the IRRRB to secure funds for additional projects that were identified in the Five-Year Improvement Plan but had not been completed. Those items were tennis and basketball courts, expansion of parking lot and baseball field and picnic area, more security lighting, fencing and backstop for baseball field, construction of football/soccer field, more playground equipment, more picnic tables, groundskeeping equipment, paving of ¾ mile trails for handicap usage, five miles of additional trails, signage and flagpole and acquiring adjoining 500 acres for environmental protection site, and misc. other items.
With assistance from grant money obtained, the Township was able to complete the development and acquisition in 1991 of many of the above items including the tennis and basketball courts, improvement of the baseball field, trails, and several other items. In 1997 two additional tennis courts were built, significantly more playground equipment was added, and the pavilion was rebuilt after having collapsed during the winter due to heavy snow.
Over the years the park has hosted tennis leagues and camps, youth baseball leagues, craft activities, It is also used regularly for township events, family picnics/gatherings, lake association meetings, weddings, church and company outings, and many other events.
The Township has also hosted an annual summer parade/fair that attracts many individuals from the township and surrounding communities. It is anticipated this will begin again once the pandemic has settled.
The park is maintained regularly by Chuck Anderson and Michael Blassey and on occasion by volunteers. We thank them and everyone who has assisted with park related activities, events, or maintenance over the years. The Township would also like to especially acknowledge all the great efforts by the citizens who had the vision and drive to create such a wonderful asset to our community beginning in the late 1970s.
During 2020 a new Park Committee was formed with the purpose of identifying and planning for improvements and upgrades to the park and recreation area. The hope is the committee and Township can build upon what it has and make the park even greater than it is today.