By Jakob Kounkel
Ellison Park is getting a much-needed upgrade in a big way with help from the Monticello Parks Commission and city staff.
Last May, the Monticello City Council approved the construction of a brand-new open-air shelter for one of the busiest parks in Monticello, as well as the main site for Riverfest—a hometown favorite.
The plan, as outlined by the proposal, is to place an open-air shelter with electrical amenities where the old rock wall is.
The shelter will be used for Riverfest as a serving area, and general park rentals will be accommodated as well.
This shelter will be able to combine the Ellison Gazebo and new shelter for weddings.
Additionally, this new shelter will allow the existing log shelter to be rented out at the same time by different parties.
Tentatively named the Lion’s Den, the new shelter is in the process of being built, and will nearly, if not fully, be completed by the time Riverfest makes its way to Ellison Park.
The project was approved with a $50,000 budget, which the Lions Club of Monticello and Ellison family helped meet with a combined $22,000 donation towards the shelter and Ellison family memorial benches.
The new shelter will also aid in providing revenue for the city by adding an additional venue for events like weddings and celebrations to be rented out.
The park will have more versatility year-round, and will be better suited for large events because of one of its objectives to accommodate Riverfest.
The new playground to be built on the south side of the shelter isn’t likely to be completed until after the shelter is built. However, it will be a great addition to recreational equipment to the parks in Monticello and add to the ambiance of Ellison Park.
There were concerns that there wouldn’t be much room left for actual park space once the shelter is built and a lack of parking.
Parks Superintendent Tom Pawelk, one of the leaders in getting this project approved and in charge of construction, says there’s ample room for parking on the street and in the park itself.
A playground structure on the south side of the shelter also is part of the project.
The new shelter and the accommodations made by the parks crew to get another playground structure will be a nice addition to the aesthetics and recreation at Ellison Park, Pawelk added.
Ellison Park, 811 River St. E., was named for Dr. Frank E. Ellison who was a doctor in Monticello from 1916 until 1972. He graduated from Monticello High School and attended medical school in Chicago.
After serving in World War I, Ellison returned to Monticello and practiced medicine for 54 years.
He was named Outstanding Citizen of Monticello in 1959 and named Wright County’s Outstanding Senior Citizen in 1965 when Riverside Park was renamed Ellison Park in his honor.
According to Pawelk, the new Ellison Park shelter is being used during Monticello’s July Riverfest celebration as a serving area and general daily park rentals will be accommodated as well.
Jakob Kounkel is a freelance feature writer for the Monticello Times.