Sleepy Eye’s parks and campground are open

Deb Moldaschel
The Sportsmen's Park campground was still quiet Monday morning, June 1 -- the day the State of Minnesota said campgrounds could open for the season. The city is taking reservations for camp sites and the camper cabins.

Sleepy Eye’s campground at Sportsmen’s Park has been a popular and busy campground for the last several years. The improvements to bring water and electric to each camp site, the two camper cabins, and the new restroom/shower house have been a draw to local campers and visitors alike.

This spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campground was not able to open on May 1 as it has in the past.

But now, as of June 1, the campground is again open for business and the city is accepting reservations.

The June 1 opening was a part of Governor Walz’s May 20 announcement of the next phases in his Stay Safe Plan, what he termed a cautious, strategic turn of the dial. The Governor’s Phase II plan included allowing limited outdoor dining at restaurants and bars and the opening of salons and barbershops at 25% occupancy.

While the announcement on bars, restaurants, and salons was of great interest to citizens and affected business people, Phase II also included the opening of campgrounds — with a list of safety guidelines.

City Manager Bob Elston said those who had reservations in May received refunds. In addition, anyone who made a reservation for a time during the rest of the summer, who does not feel comfortable coming to camp at this time, will also have their payment refunded if they call the city.

Elston said the restroom/shower house will be cleaned daily and signage at the site explains that. Signage by playground equipment explains that it is not sanitized.

Likewise, the restrooms at all city parks are open and cleaned daily. Playground equipment at all parks can be used but is not sanitized.

The big question remaining for the city is whether to open the Sleepy Eye Family Aquatic Center. At this time, pools are still not allowed to open, but Elston said guidelines for possible pool openings are being developed by the state.

The City Council has discussed the issue several times and will make a decision on opening the pool when, or if, the Governor announces it is permitted.

But, nature isn’t closed and Sleepy Eye is fortunate to have a lake with a nice swimming beach. Elston said the beach is open and the buoys marking the swimming area, to keep boats away, have been put in place.