‘Destination playground’ coming to Orono Park

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

A new “destination playground” will open this summer at Orono Park in Elk River.

A rendering of the playground planned for Orono Park in Elk River.
A rendering of the playground planned for Orono Park in Elk River.

The Elk River City Council voted unanimously Monday, March 4, to approve the purchase of the playground. The project will cost $260,700.

Elk River Parks and Recreation Director Michael Hecker described a destination playground as a larger play area with unique features to explore that appeal to a broad range of users.

“People will actually make this a destination to drive to,” he said.

The playground design was recommended by the Elk River Parks and Recreation Commission and includes a Powered by Nature theme, which is the city’s brand.

The new playground will replace an aging one that is more than 25 years old, has some safety issues and is out of compliance with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

It will include a large play structure with slides and other features attached to a tree-house-like tower component that will be built in Delano, Minn., by Landscape Structures, a worldwide company headquartered there.

Other attractions will include a teeter-totter, an OmniSpin spinner (somewhat like a merry-go-round), an Astro DX rotating climber and a Sway Fun glider. The playground will also include swings — traditional ones as well as two swings that can seat four to five children at once — and an exercise stepper that adults could use while children are playing.

In addition, a large boulder play feature now located at Windsor Park will be relocated to Orono Park and refinished. Hecker said that item is worth $18,000 to $20,000 and wasn’t heavily used at Windsor Park, which is a neighborhood park. “If we find it’s missed (at Windsor Park), then we’ll probably replace it with something else,” he said.

Many of the new playground features at Orono Park will be handicap accessible.

Some components will be designed for children 2-5; others for kids age 5-12.

The playground will be located just south of the beach parking lot. The original plan was to locate it in the same place as the old playground, but it couldn’t be put there because a water main and sewer line are under that site. Hecker said relocating those utilities would cost almost as much as the playground.

The Parks and Recreation Commission began talking about a new playground at Orono Park last spring. At a Jan. 9 community workshop the commission and others reviewed six designs from two different playground vendors. Hecker said there was consensus for the concept that has been chosen. The city also solicited feedback on the playground design from 120 fifth graders.

The playground is expected to be in place in early June and have a life of 20 to 30 years.

The old playground will be removed.

The 28-acre Orono Park is located along the west shore of Lake Orono at 18599 Gary St., near Highway 10 in western Elk River.