Red Wing City Council's July 8 meeting was a win for the beautification of local parks and the downtown area. Several items on the agenda pertained to the improvement of Red Wing's parks and recreational areas.

Purple Heart Veterans Memorial

Richard Johnson, a representative for the local VFW, gave a presentation to the council requesting the installation of a Purple Heart monument commemorating combat veterans. The monument - valued at $12,000 - will be donated by the VFW.

The 4-by-3-foot marker will be placed in John Rich Park on the north end, near the existing Veterans Memorial. The Purple Heart Monument will be made of red granite, which Johnson says represents the blood service members have shed for the country. The monument also will have lettering honoring wounded combat veterans.

"This is particularly a wonderful opportunity for this post and Purple Heart to leave a memorial here in Red Wing, one that will last forever," Johnson said.

The hope is to have the monument up and ready for dedication by Veterans Day. Red Wing City Council was supportive of the monument.

He Mni Can - Barn Bluff Regional Park

Also at the meeting Scott Sharp, vice president of Prairie Island nuclear plant, presented $25,000 to Red Wing Mayor Dowse for the purpose of improving He Mni Can / Barn Bluff Regional Park.

"It is really quite the treasure for the city," Sharp said.

The money will go toward Phase 1 of the city's master plan to improve the park. The plan addresses the following issues:

• Acknowledging the bluff as a sacred place and sensitive habitat

• Fixing eroding and damaged trails

• Improving safety and navigation within the park

• Solving the lack of parking and park amenities

The city's application for a grant through Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission to start Phase 1 of the improvements was approved in 2018. In addition, Red Wing has put some municipal funding toward the project and has received a donation by Evelyn Sweasy Charitable Trust.

The City Council approved the donation from Xcel Energy, which came under the consent agenda.

Public Art Mosaic Benches in Downtown

Megan Tsui, Curt Gruhl and Art Kenyon from Imagine Public Art in Downtown presented their organization's gift. A set of four benches made out of cement and finished with pieces of glazed clay to create a mosaic pattern was offered to the Red Wing City Council. Imagine Public Art in Downtown's goal is to bring more public art to the downtown area. The council accepted the donation.

"They're beautiful," Council member Erin Buss said.

One bench will be placed on each corner of Third and Bush streets this summer. The donation - valued at $8,000 - is another opportunity to contribute to the Red Wing 2040 Community Plan. Public Works Department and the Community Development Department will be making sure the benches comply with sidewalk guidelines.

"There is a huge need also down there for that kind of seating," Council member Evan Brown said.

Each bench is about 40 inches long and 21 inches deep and weighs around 250 pounds. Art featured on the benches will include the local natural environment, architecture and the Mississippi River.


Birdhouses at Memorial Park

The consent agenda also included birdhouse placement at Memorial Park. This summer seventh and eighth graders from the Sparkz day camp at Anderson Center at Tower View will be building birdhouses for various vulnerable bird species, including the American kestrel, the northern flicker and the grey-crested flycatcher.

Camp staff and city park naturalists are working together to place 10 of the birdhouses along Memorial Park trails to encourage these species within the area and to improve the bird watching experience for the locals.