Isanti’s Bluebird Park slated for increased activities

The City of Isanti has big plans for Bluebird Park following the addition of an amphitheater to the park. At its Oct. 5 meeting, Isanti City Council approved a special event permit for a grand opening for the amphitheater, approved moving forward with a holiday lighting display similar to Bentleyville to open in Dec. 2022, and discussed moving the city’s summer street dances to the park.

A grand opening for the new amphitheater will tentatively take place Saturday, Oct. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. pending completion of construction of the amphitheater. There will be food trucks on-site and approximately 100 people are expected to participate.

The council was given two concepts from which to choose for the lighting display, and approved the second concept with a three-to-two vote; council members Paul Bergley and Jim Gordon voted against the lighting display due to the cost.

The concept approved is a ticketed walk-through experience focusing on one-sided light displays with market-style activities, such as vendor booths and photo opportunities. This concept is expected to draw an audience from Isanti County as well as neighboring counties, and there are partner opportunities at the county level, according to Parks, Recreation, and Events Coordinator Alyssa Olson. 

Along with display costs, additional production costs for this concept include fencing, overnight security, storage, operations staff, and general event utilities. An event like this would take place for one full week in December.

Ticket fees, paid parking, and partner revenue will help offset the costs associated with an event this size, and partner opportunities would range from trade/donations to a top tier at $5,000. The initial cost for this event is expected to be $107,000, with an estimated revenue of $84,000, for a net cost of $23,000 in the first year. In the second year, an event of this size would have a potential profit of more than $20,000, according to Finance Director Mike Betker.

The other concept proposed would have been a free event focusing on market-style activities such as vendor booths, ice skating, and photos with Santa, and limited focus on light displays. It would have been a standard community festival, likely only drawing in Isanti County residents and run for one weekend in December. 

This concept would have provided partner opportunities with local businesses and organization that would range from trade/donations to a top tier at $2,500. Of the two concepts, this event style would have incurred the least display and production costs, but also had the lowest potential for revenue and attendance, leaving the majority of the cost burden on taxpayers. 

It is expected that this concept would have cost approximately $38,000 in initial expenses the first year, with an estimated revenue of approximately $17,000, for a net cost of $21,000. The second year, the event would have had an expected net cost of $3,000.

The council did not make a decision regarding moving the street dances to Bluebird Park. Further discussion regarding this will take place at a future committee of the whole meeting.


The council approved a purchase agreement for the sale of the current municipal liquor store building and land to Nick and Drew’s Enterprises for $400,000. The business will have the option of purchasing any equipment currently in the building, such as coolers. 

The expected closing date for the purchase is Friday, Dec. 17, and the business that will be in the building, located at 400 West Dual Boulevard Northeast in Isanti, will be Nick and Drew’s Discount grocery store. 

Nick and Drew are brothers who grew up in the Isanti area and graduated from Cambridge-Isanti High School. They opened their first Discount Food Store in Lindstrom in 2017, which has been a huge success, according to Community Development Director Sheila Sellman. 


The owner of Rockstad and Co. Relics & Wares, currently located at 401 East Dual Boulevard, has been looking to relocate, potentially moving out of the City of Isanti, according to Sellman. 

However, in working with the owner, Sellman has negotiated selling them the property located at 102 Dahlin Avenue Northeast, which the city acquired in 2016 by donation. A building located at that property was demolished by the city at a cost of $25,950. 

The owner proposes to build a multi-tenant retail space with her shop in one portion, leasing out the other spaces. 

The lot was offered to the owner of Rockstad and Co. Relics and Wares for $1, and will keep this business in the community. 


In other business, the council:

•Approved a resolution changing council committee assignments for the remainder of 2021. The only change made was to have Mayor Jeff Johnson be the representative on the Parks, Recreation, and Culture board and Gordon being the alternate.

•Approved a resolution amending the comprehensive land use plan to change the classification of several parcels from general commercial to low density single family residential.

•Heard a presentation regarding 2014A bond refunding.

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