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Park board candidate Ken Kitzman ready to give back to community

Minot voters will select two candidates from a field of five in the June 9 city election to fill positions on Minot Park Board.

The election is being conducted with absentee ballots. Ballots must be postmarked June 8 or delivered to a drop box by 4 p.m. on June 9. The drop box in Minot is the library box in front of the Ward County Administration Building.

A Minot native, candidate Ken Kitzman says he wants to get involved in maintaining the parks and recreation services that have made a difference to his family. He is retired as president of the Minot Area Community Foundation. He shares his thoughts as follows on parks and recreation.

What services of the park do you and your family use most? What do you like about them?

Most recently, Judi and I have enjoyed the many walking trails throughout the park system, including trails at Oak Park, Roosevelt Park, Woodland, Bison Plant Trail and Jack Hoeven Park. We enjoy the outdoors and exercise; it is wonderful to observe families walking, biking and Rollerblading the paths together as well as walking their pets.

In the summer we enjoy going to Corbet Field, attending Saber Dog baseball games while visiting with friends, and again witnessing families coming together to enjoy the sport. We attend festivals and concerts with family and friends at the Oak Park Amphitheater. Visiting the Zoo is always at the top of our favorite places to go. The enhancements at the RPZ are amazing and are only going to get better. The lion and tiger exhibits are simply incredible.

In the winter months we enjoy attending hockey games at MAYSA, another facility utilized by families.

In the past, when our grandchildren were living in Minot, and when they visit, we enjoy family picnics, the Magic Smiles Playground, Splash Pad, Roosevelt Park Swimming Pool, the Zoo, and Wee Links Golf Course. We have attended many soccer games at the Soccer Field. These are all family-oriented activities, which is so important to have these available to all.

What is one initiative or project you would like to see the park district pursue in the next four years?

It is not easy to identify just one, but to prioritize I would say #1 on my wish list would be a permanent Indoor Recreation Area. If we could go down on my wish list it would also include a new waterslide at Roosevelt Park Pool and improvements in clearing brush at Camp Owetti for safety reasons. I would also like to see a “Poured in Place” rubber surface installed at the “all-inclusive” Magic Smiles Playground to replace the existing wood chips.

Are you satisified with the direction the park distrit is taking with its long-term planning and future park/recreation opportunities or are there areas you would want reconsidered?

I am absolutely satisfied with the direction the Park and Recreation District are taking. I believe they just finished their 5-year capital plan, staying within their budget. Areas I would like to have considered/reconsidered for the future would include the Leopard Exhibit at the RPZ and an aquatic center so that Minot can be competitive with the rest of the state. In addition, the development of the land south of MAYSA for bikes, frisbee golf, sledding, with additional walking trails, and completion of Overlook Park. Of very little expense, the addition of trail markers/maps for users at Woodland Trails. Improvements that could also be considered would be at Polaris Park, Disc Golf Course and the South Hill Complex.

Do you believe the park district hsa been a wise steward of its dollars or are there areas where the district should be spending more or less?

I do believe the Park and Recreation District are working within the existing budget and making very wise use of their dollars. Given the current financial challenges, it is critical that taxes and fees not be increased at this time and that we must stay within the current budget. Because of the Board being fiscally responsible they have made it easy to garner community partnerships, i.e. Minot Area Community Foundation, who has been a significant partner in many of the recent park improvements. In the short-term the district cannot be spending more, as the taxpayers cannot take on any increase in taxes and/or user fees. We must look at areas that can be postponed and prioritize existing funds for identified projects. I do believe the District is acting efficiently, not like a government entity. There is a lot of public space that could be utilized vs. building new, i.e. the existing auditorium.

Please describe your background and the perspectives you would bring to the park board.

As a lifelong Minot resident, I take great PRIDE in the “Magic” of Minot. Throughout my career I have been involved in creating that “Magic.” I served 18 years on the Ward County Park Board, which has given me insight as to the needs of our citizens and working within a budget. For 15 years I was on the Rice Lake Recreation Service District Board and served as president for 6 years. During the time of serving as president, a lake-wide sewer system was installed, which was a huge undertaking. I have a strong financial background from my time as vice president of Midwest Federal Bank and for the past 22 years I was the founder/president of the Minot Area Community Foundation. The Foundation was instrumental in establishing community partners to identify community needs and has invested over a million dollars to the Minot Park District, with the goal of improving the quality of life. The undertakings MACF was involved in include many enhancements to our Park District – i.e. the Magic Smiles Playground, Oak Park Amphitheater, Tiger Exhibit at RPZ, Woodlands Walking Trail, the Fun Zone, Bark Park, the Pepsi Rink at MAYSA and other improvements, the Burlington and Radio City Splashpads, Dream Catchers field, Overlook Park and the future Magic City Discovery Center.

Recently retired, I offer my time to give back to the community. I care about the quality of life for all our citizens/families. I would feel privileged to serve on the Minot Park and Recreation Board.

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