Three years after it was proposed and about a year after two major funding sources were secured, local citizens and Barron Kiwanis Club members are anticipating the arrival of material and equipment to build a more than $300,000 play structure in Anderson Park.
The proposed facility overcame a major hurdle when local sponsors worked with a Rice Lake company to design a crushed rock base for the equipment that will hold water and will not violate federal floodplain regulations that cover much of the park.
Now that the equipment is on order, local citizens are being encouraged to help build the structure when it arrives.
“A ‘Community Build’ process could save this project roughly $40,000 … by having volunteer groups help with the assembly and installation (under the guidance of professsionals),” Kiwanis member Andrew Sloan said last week.
The process began in 2017, when City Council member Maureen ‘Mo” Tollman began spreading the word about the proposal and gathering donations. A year later, Barron Kiwanis Club agreed to take on the proposal as a club project.
In June 2019, the local club was chosen in a competitive bidding process to receive a $25,000 grant from Kiwanis International to help finance the play structure.
The city of Barron has pledged an additional $175,000, and the city has also agreed to maintain the structure.
Private fundraising has produced the rest over the past three years -- everything from neighborhood lemonade stands to major contributions from local businesses and institutions.
Sloan said the total cost – including site preparation, equipment and major installation work – comes to an estimated $314,000.
Hundreds of hours have been invested in planning and fundraising, but the real “sweat equity” will be needed when the equipment arrives in Barron, he added.
“Volunteer groups will join together to assemble the playground equipment in the ‘community build,’” Sloan said.
The manufacturer, Delano, Minn.-based Landscape Structures (has advised) “that we should plan for teams of 15 people per day, for eight hours a day, for five days of installation,” he added. “The skill-set is intended for those of all abilities, and no personal tools will be necessary. The process is overseen by the manufacturer.”
The project was delayed earlier this year when it was discovered that storm water runoff from the play structure site might go against federal floodplain regulations.
The regulations are designed to prevent additional downstream flooding, that could harm other people or structures close to streams and rivers.
According to City Engineer Teresa Anderson, the problem was solved by a design that includes an underground network of pipes, layers of sand and crushed concrete, and additional layers of rubber (to allow disabled people to use the facility) and wood chips, all of which can either temporarily absorb runoff and/or delay it as it drains into the nearby Yellow River.
“The (federal) requirement that the playground needs to (follow) is that the (play structure) not increase the regional flood height by more than 0.01 foot,” Anderson said.
“Actual requirements for (local) floodplain ordinances filter down to the state and local level through Department of Natural Resources,” she added. State authorities “request or require that communities adopt Floodplain Zoning and Management ordinances,” Anderson said.