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New picnic area coming soon to Robbins Island in Willmar

Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Two new patios, complete with picnic tables and additional seating, will be constructed at the Robbins Island playground in the next few weeks. One will be located in the green space just to the left of the playground entrance, while the second will be in the section of grass right across from the playground.

WILLMAR — While June 24 marked the grand opening of the Robbins Island playground, it wasn't the end of the project. Even three months later there is still work to be done, as Dave Baker announced during the Sept. 5 Willmar City Council meeting.

"We are still working through the process to make sure all the little things are getting done," Baker said.

Baker helped lead the fundraising for the steering committee to build the approximately $800,000 Destination Playground at Robbins Island. It was built in May with the help of community volunteers.

The playground will be closed Tuesday through Friday to accommodate the additional work. The largest update in the works next week will be the construction of two patios right outside the entrance to the playground. The patios will be designed and built by Stacy's Nursery and David Monson Landscaping and will include picnic tables, wall seating and landscaping.

"We are going to be putting in the new patios, requested by many people. We have a lot of kids who want to have their birthday parties out there," Baker said.

Each patio will have three to four colorful, heavy-duty picnic tables, with at least one being handicap accessible.

The patio project is estimated to cost around $30,000, which will come from the steering committee's playground fund.

"We had a few extra dollars to do this," Baker said.

As it did with the playground itself, the playground steering committee haa received a lot of help from the community and contractors to complete the patios. While the price tag is $30,000, Baker said the committee is receiving $60,000 worth of labor and product.

"We're getting a lot of product for a very, very good price," Baker said.

In addition to the patios, there are a few other projects to be completed inside the playground. This includes installing an additional 300 personalized fence pickets, replacing pickets with spelling errors, installing solar accent lighting, bird netting for the rooftops of the playground structures and improving the signage for the garbage receptacles around the park.

"(We) appreciate the attention to detail, especially with these follow-up amenities," Councilor Andrew Plowman said.

To complete the upcoming projects, the Robbins Island playground will be closed from Sept. 19 to Sept. 22. Volunteers and contractors are being called back in to make sure the work is completed in the allotted time.

"They want to be done in a week," Baker said.

The Willmar City Council approved the concept for the patio project back in July and unanimously approved the more specific design at last week's meeting.

"This is a shining example of what can be done when a community pulls together," Plowman said.