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Local grant writer and Chester Park advocate, Barbara Weinstein, recently received word from the Buckminster Fuller Foundation that Chester Bowl will be awarded a grant to build a large glass geodesic dome over much of the park. The dome, which will measure 4372 feet across and 1209 feet at its peak, should be completed, barring any engineering complications, by August 2016. The projected cost, according to engineering contractor Johnson Controls, is 160 million dollars; making this the largest building project in Duluth since the Red Plan. The new park will be named Chester Tropicana.
The Chester Tropicana will house various swimming pools including an Olympic specification lap pool, waterslides and spas. The temperature will be maintained at a humid 86 degrees, making it ideal for exotic tropical flora and gardens.
Mayor Don Ness and Chester Bowl’s Director of Programming, Thom Storm offered the Northland Enquirer exclusive rights to this groundbreaking story.
“We have been wanting a public water park for years,” offered Mayor Ness. “Cascade Bay Water Park in Eagan has provided nothing but positives for that community and The Edge could use a little friendly competition. There is virtually nothing like this on the planet. Landscape designers and architects will be working in conjunction with UMD botany professors who will help create the largest tropical conservatory in the northern hemisphere.”
“It’s a win-win project,” interjected Storm. “At the rate they’re cutting down the tropical rain forests, Chester Tropicana may very well be the last place on earth some of these horticultural treasures will be found. We have already begun the process of selecting the tropical flora.”
“I don’t know about the Last Place on Earth and tropical flora” countered Ness, who appeared a little confused by Storm’s comment, “but this wholesome project will certainly infuse much needed living-wage jobs into the local economy. We will only have to raise eighty million dollars and the Fuller Foundation will generously match the other eighty million. Of course it will take a little creative accounting. We’ll need to reallocate funds and postpone road repair for another year or twenty. Our community, after all, is very good at dodging our pot holes.”
Once completed, Chester Tropicana will create 68 full time window washing positions, various maintenance jobs and retail positions. Duluth’s own Mr. Green Thumb, Tom Kasper, will be the Director of Grounds.
The last of six public hearings on the subject was held on Monday in the City Council chambers. Public response was mostly positive while President and CEO of Visit Duluth, Terry Mattson, echoed Mayor Ness’ enthusiasm. “This is going to be awesome!” shared Mattson. “Where else at this latitude can you experience palm trees and mosquitoes in February? We estimate it will draw somewhere in the vicinity of four million tourists a year, second only to the Great Lakes Aquarium!”
Mayor Ness also made a direct appeal to the citizens of Duluth. “The frosting on the pie, so to speak, is that we will provide free admission to Duluth residents, making this an undeniable cake.” Ness elaborated that ongoing operating expenses will be covered by “nicking the tourists with a modest admission fee” but promised to charge “those rat bastards in Midway Township double.”
“So the City really thinks we need a tropical wonderland in the heart of the Northland?” mused an eighty-seven year old resident, who asked not to be named. “I ran over a pothole last week that rivals a crater on the moon, you think they’d want to take care of the potholes before catering to those pesky Twin Cities tourists.”
“Once they see just what this will do for the local economy, the naysayers will become yaysayers,” offered Mattson. “One of the historic ski jumps will be retrofitted to become the largest water slide in the country, does anyone understand just how totally awesome that will be?”
Most Chester Park board members and Storm, while initially surprised by Weinstein’s proposal, have since embraced the idea.
“At first, it was hard for me to wrap my brain around,” offered Storm, “I was a little concerned that a large glass dome housing tropical plants and a waterpark might not complement the natural amenities of Chester Park, but Barbara can be quite convincing.”
Weinstein added, “Yes, several board members thought a large pyramid was more in keeping with the park’s natural terrain, but I pointed out that the dome would not only be more economical in terms of building and maintenance costs, but more aesthetically pleasing as well.”
“There’s plenty of skiing around the area” reassured Storm. “We’ll still have cross country skiing on the surrounding trails.”
“If there are any monies left over, Thom has requested the purchase of a dozen spider monkeys to dwell in the canopy,” said Weinstein, “He may get his wish,” she chuckled.
Chester Park will be closed to the public starting June 2013 through completion of the project.
To learn more about Chester Tropicana, visit the parks and recreation link at http://www.duluthmn.gov/