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Willmar's Sunrise Park may get new play structure

Erica Dischino / Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — There was consensus Monday from the Willmar City Council to place a new play structure in Sunrise Park this spring to replace equipment that had been removed in 2015.

This new structure was one of three purchased last year. Two of them will be going to Miller Park. City staff had discussions about where to place the third structure and recommended Sunrise Park due to usage.

"Sunrise seems to be a heavily used park," said Steve Brisendine, director of community education and recreation

The discussion Monday was during the council work session, and the official OK to install the play equipment at Sunrise Park, along 23d Street Southeast, will be made during the March 18 council meeting.

Councilor Rick Fagerlie, who represents Ward 3 where Sunrise is located, was happy with the site.

"That park was devastated when they took out the play equipment," Fagerlie said.

He added that playground equipment is needed to give kids somewhere safe to play while their siblings are playing baseball at the Sunrise baseball field.

"It does make the most sense to look at practicality and use," Councilor Andrew Plowman said.

There was discussion during the work session about the process of where equipment is placed and future equipment purchases.

"We need a process in place before we spend that $100,000," Nelsen said.

There was some confusion whether there is $100,000 in the 2018 budget for new playground equipment. Brisendine told the Tribune later that a review of the budget documents show there is $100,000 in the budget for playground equipment in 2018.

The council during discussions last year at council retreats made replacing playground equipment a priority.

"Council was very clear in the retreat they wanted the neighborhood parks back to the level they were before," Mayor Marv Calvin said.

The city decided to remove playground equipment from numerous city parks in 2015 following a report that found many pieces of equipment were aging and/or unsafe.

"There are a number of parks that have lost equipment due to the age of the equipment," Brisendine said.

In 2016, six parks received new playground equipment, purchased and installed at a cost of $190,000. The three new play structures purchased in 2017, which will be installed this year at Miller and possibly Sunrise Park, cost approximately $140,000.

Brisendine said the $100,000 in this year's budget could purchase and install two new play structures, if the city continues to purchase the same size and quality of structures it has been.

It will be a busy year in the parks. This year will also mark the grand opening of Rice Park's new splash pad and shelter, updates at Robbins Island and the installation of new tennis courts and play equipment at Miller Park.

"I think we are doing a pretty good job on an annual basis," City Administrator Ike Holland said.