ROCHESTER, MINN. – Two years after homeowners purchased their neighborhood, residents of a southeast Minnesota ROC are ready to take charge and tackle another major project that will benefit residents for generations to come.
A new playground, basketball court and picnic area for the Zumbro Ridge Estates ROC is in the works. Since becoming resident-owned, members have felt a renewed inspiration to make improvements to their neighborhood that will benefit existing Members and attract others looking to move.
“People right now, they are energized, they are excited,” said Allie Lechner, operations manager for Zumbro Ridge. “They want to move forward and do better. People take pride in what we are.”
The basketball court is estimated to cost around $15,000, the the picnic tables and grills $10,000 and the playground $60,000 for a total of about $85,000.
The ROC is using grants to cover some of the cost of the construction, which Lechner said ROC Members are grateful for. KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization that helps bring playgrounds to neighborhoods, gave the community $15,000 to purchase equipment.
Some parts of the project are being donated as well, like the equipment for the new basketball court, which was donated by Bear Creek Church. Members of that church, along with the Evangel Methodist Church, also plan to volunteer their time to help set up the playground.
The nearest park is about two miles from the ROC. Zumbro was once home to a wooden playground , but it was taken down a few years ago due to age and safety concerns.
“The children here have nothing to do,” Lechner said.
All this will come together to create a perfect outdoor play area for everyone in the ROC and grow the sense of community that’s been strengthening over the last two years. Last summer, ROC Members took part in the National Night Out, a program in which communities across the U.S. gather to increase camaraderie and safety.
“It was huge, it was a massive success,” Lechner said .
With the added amenities, the hope is that more families will move into the neighborhood. Currently, there are 30 lots available to be filled. With seven homes expected to come in this year (and financing available for those who are interested in moving in), Lechner said she believes the rest of the spots will be filled quickly.
“If you’re going to have a community that people want to move into — and we are — doing this project was a no brainer,” Lechner said.
Local high school students will also volunteer their time this summer to help spruce up some of the homes in the ROC that were previously rented out in anticipation of new residents moving in.
Lechner said the ROC leaders plan to start work as soon as possible, and that Zumbro Ridge Estates is going to look completely different once everything is finished.
“What’s going to happen is absolutely huge,” Lechner said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”
Click here to read more about the project on the community’s GoFundMe page.
The support from the community at-large spreads further than this project. Lechner said
“It’s a lot of stuff going on, but it’s very exciting,” she said.
Lechner encourages other communities to look into projects like this if they’re interested and see if there are any local partnerships or resources they could utilize.
“Really visualize what you see your community being and go for it,” she said. “Don’t get discouraged.”
Having a Board of Directors that is willing to volunteer its time outside of meetings can be a huge bonus as well.
“You have to have Board Members that lead by example,” she said.
Zumbro Ridge Estates residents purchased their neighborhood in October 2017, with help from Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, the ROC USA® Network Certified Technical Assistance Provider for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. NCF will work with residents for the duration of their mortgage – at least 10 years.
Tom Guettler, the Techinical Assistance Provider for the ROC, said he’s proud of the work Lechner and the rest of the Board of Directors have put into kicking off this project.
“It’s going to be a pretty dramatic change,” he said.
Projects like this also help to inspire a sense of ownership within the community.
“Residents see this stuff happening and think, ‘(The Board) is actually thinking of us, the community is improving now’,” he said.