While the Friends of Chester Woods has a strong membership base, we struggle to grow that membership. The main reason we believe people are reluctant to become members is because park visitors must pay to enter the park. Because of this challenge, the Friends decided to think creatively about how to instill a sense of excitement while building a stream of income.
Enter, the very popular camper cabin. We decided that to give the group a steady income, we would solicit funds to build a second camper cabin at the park. We called our project “Income for Outreach.” The cabin would cost around $25,000.
We started by successfully negotiating with the Olmsted County to allow the income from the Friends of Chester Woods cabin to stay at the park (entrance fee income goes into the general fund). We got busy applying for grants, soliciting businesses and visitors, and more.
Our park is located 7 miles from Rochester, which creates a barrier for those unable to drive here. We are counting on this reliable source of income to support programs and transportation to bring more people to the park, including children with developmental disabilities, veterans, senior citizens, and other people underrepresented in park visitation.
This income from the cabin will also help the park naturalist to greatly expand the park’s educational offerings, instilling in visitors a better appreciation of the incredible natural wonders of this little-known gem of a park. It may also be used to help park staff with trail maintenance and upkeep of favorite park amenities, such as the fishing piers and the swimming beach.
We gathered the necessary funds, and ‘our’ attractive new cabin was completed this fall! We are now brainstorming new ideas to generate more income for our wonderful 1330 acre park. Come visit us!