By Anthony Bettin
Running a parks and recreation department during a pandemic requires a little bit of creativity.
Maple Grove Parks and Recreation has partnered with The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes to give residents a space for safe, socially-distanced activities during winter. Situated in 17,000 square feet that used to be the site of a Forever 21, the new recreation space will host fitness and wellness programs, pickleball and even the Maple Grove Farmers Market.
"During this pandemic it is more important then ever to provide recreation services to our community," superintendent of recreation Aimee Peterson says. "We are extremely excited about this new location and partnership with The Shoppes."
Typically, the department partners with ISD 279 to rent facility space for indoor recreation programs, Peterson says, but with the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19, they researched alternate partnerships.
"The Shoppes had a large retail space ... available and thought it would be a perfect location for our programs," Peterson said.
"The large space makes it easy to social distance and allows our team to provide wellness programs that are so important during this time."
Fitness and wellness programs like yoga, tai chi, Zumba and others have already begun in the space, with more on the way. Open pickleball play (with reservations required) is available on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
"Pickleball is one of the largest if not largest growing lifetime recreational activity and sport," Peterson says. "Pickleball in Maple Grove took off with the senior population about five years ago and now more and more younger adults and working adults are playing."
The Farmers Market will come to the space in November, and Peterson says more exciting opportunities are on the way.
"We are just getting started and hope to collaborate with some of the local businesses at The Shoppes as well," she says.
As winter threatens to make an already isolating year even more difficult, Peterson and the rest of the Parks and Recreation team are working hard to keep the community connected.
"The recreation team is more creative then ever right now," Peterson says, "and we can’t wait to share these new experiences with the community."