This is the type of Gateway Project sign that would be placed in the First Bank & Trust property on Sixth Street. The stone-and-concrete, monument-style sign would be approximately 32 feet long and 9 feet tall; the “brookings” text height would be 36 inches. The bank is transferring the property to city ownership, at which time the signage placement can begin. Illustration by Confluence
• Sixth Street property becomes community’s ‘Gateway’
BROOKINGS – First Bank & Trust in Brookings is finalizing plans to donate a 7.3-acre parcel of land to the city in an effort to preserve the space as an undeveloped greenway and ensure an attractive corridor for entry into the city.
The Brookings council took two actions Tuesday that will permit the city to receive the gift, approving resolutions accepting title to the “Gateway property” on Sixth Street and authorizing a conservation easement on the land that it will make it a permanent park area.
The property will be the site of the city’s main “Welcome to Brookings” sign, a monument-style display that will be located near the intersection of Sixth and 22nd Avenue. It will be the cornerstone of the city’s multi-million-dollar Gateway signage project.
"Our organization and the City of Brookings have a long history of working together to improve our community," said Kevin Tetzlaff, president of First Bank & Trust.
"We are eagerly anticipating this donation, which will play an important role in maintaining the beauty of the town we call our home."
The land, located across from McCrory Gardens to the south, is filled with a mixture of spruce and pine trees, as well as a central, meadow-type lawn and flowering and shade trees. The trees have matured over the past 30 years to provide a scenic buffer for the adjacent neighborhoods, blocking out the sights and sounds of the busy intersection.
Likewise, the park-like setting complements McCrory Gardens, with its natural aesthetics and wooded character.
This impending donation is possible because of the foresight of Bob Fishback more than 40 years ago when the land was purchased.
"It has been important to me and to my family that this land remains undeveloped," said Fishback, who is chairman of the First Bank & Trust board.
"For years, it has helped make the entrance to the city warm and inviting. By donating the land to the City of Brookings, we can ensure that it continues to play that role for decades to come."
In donating the land, First Bank & Trust will give up all rights to the property. However, bank officials are working with the city, which will own the property, and Northern Prairies Land Trust, which will accept a conservation easement on the land to ensure its intended future as a designated green space.
With this agreement, no commercial development can occur on the land, but the city has the option of cultivating and landscaping the property for both aesthetic and educational purposes.
The transfer of the property will take several weeks as documents are reviewed by the participating parties, bank representatives said Tuesday.
City officials see the gift of a prime parcel of land as an important component of its "Gateway Project." This project has as a key focus the beautification of the corridor from I-29 leading westward into town.
"We are thrilled First Bank & Trust is gifting Brookings this valuable piece of land, which provides a perfect transition between commercial development and residential areas," said Mayor Tim Reed.
"By preserving this green space, we will ensure both a beautiful entrance to our city and a valuable resource for our residents.
“We are grateful to both the Fishback family and to First Bank & Trust.”