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Contract awarded for destination playground surface

WILLMAR -- Work on Willmar's destination playground is entering its home stretch. The Willmar City Council approved a playground surfacing contract at its Monday meeting and heard an update on the progress of the playground to be located at Robbi...

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Submitted An artist's rendition shows how Willmar's completed destination park will look like.

WILLMAR - Work on Willmar's destination playground is entering its home stretch.

The Willmar City Council approved a playground surfacing contract at its Monday meeting and heard an update on the progress of the playground to be located at Robbins Island.

Surface America Inc. of Williamsville, New York, will install a two-layer rubber-urethane playground surface over a concrete base for $181,010. The bid was $30,000 to $40,000 less than an engineer's estimate.

Councilor Rick Fagerlie asked how long the material being used has been around. City Engineer Sean Christensen said the surface had been recommended by the playground committee, which had contacted other communities with playgrounds of the same type.

Sara Carlson and Rachel Skretvedt spoke with the council about the next steps in the playground's progress, culminating in the community build, which will begin on May 16. Site preparation will be done before volunteers come in to put all the equipment together and put the finishing touches on the playground to be added to Willmar's largest park on Business 71.

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A grand opening is planned for Willmar Fests week.

The cost of the 19,000-square-foot playground is expected to be about $900,000, Carlson said. So far, 95 percent of the funding has been raised, she added, and contributions are still coming in.

She praised the numerous individuals and businesses in the community which have donated materials and labor to help keep the cost down.

The playground equipment has been ordered and is being custom-built for the playground. Some of it is expected to arrive as early as next week. It will be stored by Marcus Construction until the community build.

Skretvedt showed photos of similar equipment, which she said has been ordered from Great Britain, Australia and around the United States, including Minnesota.

"Our most urgent need is volunteers," she said. "We've got a job for everyone."

A call is going out for tools that can be loaned for the community build, Skretvedt said. The tools on the list range from 5-gallon buckets and brooms to jig saws and a forklift. The full list of what's needed is on the playground's website willmarplayground.com.

The committee working on the playground started a year ago when "we were just dreaming," Carlson said. "All the hard stuff is done," she said, and the community build should be fun for everyone who volunteers to help.

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Councilor Fernando Alvarado said he had been pleased to see the participation from so many different people in the planning process. He encouraged people to volunteer to help with the playground build.

"This is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors," he said.

The council on Monday also approved a contract for improvements at Rice Park. The $540,800 contract with Chester Contracting of Willmar will pay for a plaza, a new shelter and other improvements at the park in the area of Rice Avenue and Third Street Southwest Willmar. A splash pad, which was not part of the bid approved Monday, is planned for the plaza area.

Two councilors, Ron Christianson and Rick Fagerlie, voted against the Rice Park contract. Their view was that a splash pad would keep people away from the city's aquatic park.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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