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Past Year Saw Park Board Tackle Survey; Unleash Donzes On A Park Master Plan

By Eric X. Viccaro

For the Ste. Genevieve Park Board, the year 2020 will go down as a memorable one with future plans for Pere Marquette Park rounding into form.

During a board of alderman meeting on Dec. 10, city leaders approved the first and second reading to set up a non-profit 501(c)(3) for fundraising for master plan improvements to Marquette Park.

The arrangement is in cooperation with the Ste. Genevieve Community Foundation through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which is based in Springfield, will serve as the account’s administrator, said Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch in a telephone interview with the Herald.

The city will be responsible for depositing and requesting funds from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Welch expects the park board to approve establishment of the fund at its regularly scheduled meeting in late January.

“Money will be used for playground equipment, trail improvements and matching grants, if they are available,” Welch said.

The park board hasn’t met since October out of concern for COVID-19 (coronavirus).

During discussions regarding Marquette Park’s master plan, the board prioritized three areas that need improvement first.

Playground equipment throughout the park needs to be upgraded. The trail system needs to be widened to accommodate different types of users such as bicyclists and walkers. Bathrooms also need updating.

The master plan features three distinct phases, including future possible construction of a concert amphitheatre, multi-purpose court, additional parking spaces and a pavilion suited for family or business gatherings.

The park board during the month of October formed various subcommittees ranging from fundraising to trails, playgrounds and bathrooms.

At the final park board meeting on Oct. 27, 2020, park board president John Conard lined up an engineer to assist in laying out the proposed new trail – with the goal to have a price quote in the near future.

The park board also could soon be applying for a grant for adventure playground equipment.

At the heart of the master park plan was a near 50-page manifesto put together by Ste. Genevieve residents Nick and Mary Donze.

Both Donzes are rich in experience when it comes to parks. Nick has provided his technical expertise through designs and drawings. Mary has an extensive background in reshaping state parks such as Johnson’s Shut-In State Park in Middle Brook.

“We have a passion for this type of work,” Nick Donze said.

Donze sensed the city had been struggling for quite some time on what to do with Marquette Park, a facility with loads of potential.

“They needed a solid plan moving forward, and we were more than happy to help it along,” Nick Donze added.

Nick also played a critical role in redeveloping the park system in St. Charles County, which includes McNair Park, where Valle Catholic ran during the cross country postseason.

The Donzes are currently on a $2,000 per year retainer, serving as the park board’s de facto consultants.

The board voted back in January, 2020 to authorize the Donzes to conduct a parks survey and to create the master plan.

This was a banner year for Ste. Genevieve’s park system in other respects.

During the summer, Marquette Park played host to the first-ever Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned tournament in city history.

The Tier “C” tournament brought in disc golfers from around the region, and a couple of players from distant locales such as Maine and Texas.

In October, the city had an official dedication ceremony for Pinkley Park, which included playground equipment donated by former mayor Dick Greminger, and his wife, Suzanne.