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A true neighborhood park: Residents help select Greystone Park equipment

Rosemount City Council has approved purchasing playground equipment from St. Croix Recreation to be installed at Greystone Park this summer. Neighbors and parks youth commission worked alongside Rosemount Parks Commission to select the equipment. Image courtesy of city of Rosemount1 / 3
A wobble sphere will be part of the new Greystone Park in Rosemount. The ride allows up to children to climb inside and explore play while getting spun around. Photo courtesy of city of Rosemount2 / 3
Greystone Park will have a generational swing, allowing an adult and child to sit across from one another. Photo courtesy of city of Rosemount3 / 3

Rosemount's Greystone Park will soon premiere a futuristic wobble sphere ride and a generational swing for youngsters to play face to face with parents or grandparents at the playground.

Rosemount City Council voted unanimously July 5 to approve the modern, state-of-the-art playground equipment that will be installed at the brand new neighborhood park in about a month.

Greystone Park will be located at 1268 138 St., east of Akron and south of the rail line.

Rosemount Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz presented the $70,000 proposal that was a collaborative effort and the playground earned approval from the city and youth commission groups and neighbors.

"Greystone Park is currently under construction and we are about half way done and we will be doing some trails and infrastructure later," Schulz said.

Neighborhood meetings

Rosemount officials met with residents who live near the park and took notes about their wishes.

"We held our neighborhood meeting right after their homeowners' association meeting and we ended up with more than 50 people at the meeting — that was one of our largest meetings," Schultz said. "We got a ton of really good input and we were able to talk with them at length and they were very excited about the opportunity."

Based on residents' feedback, the city parks commission gathered common denominators about residents' desires for neighborhood playground amenities.

City staff then put together a request for proposals not to exceed $70,000 — a standard budget for most neighborhood parks, said Schultz.

"We are one of the last few communities that has a wide open system and we accept proposals from all vendors and we go through a scoring process and we try to pick the best one each time," he said.

The city engaged in a standard review process and each group independently reviewed the playground proposals. The initial group included three parks and recreation commission members, one parks city staff and one public works staff member. Each one reviewed proposals visually displayed on three-and-half-foot by four-and-a-half foot colorful boards.

"We gave them some room and direction, but we let them score and come back and give us some input so it is done independently," Schultz said.

Four out of five members chose St. Croix Recreation as the top player in the playground proposal.

Two playground additions

After scoring each proposal, the parks and recreation commission also reviewed the proposals and selected St. Croix Recreation. The parks commission asked for two playground addition pieces.

The Rosemount Youth Commission broke into four groups. "We let them go off in their groups and asked them to pick their first and second and then their top two playground proposals," Schultz said.

"We went back and asked them to tell us what they learned about the playground process or the whole of choosing the playground equipment that was educational for them," Schultz said.

Rosemount Youth Parks Commission also selected St. Croix Recreation as the top playground equipment proposal. Youthd cited how they liked the traditional playground equipment and the atypical equipment not seen at all parks.

"Excuse my ignorance, you said a generational swing, what is that?" Mayor Bill Droste said.

"There are only seven firms that sell the equipment in the Twin Cities - the swing is where the adult sits on a belt swing and there is an attachment where the child sits across from them and they swing together," Droste said.

Generational swings are popping up at playgrounds across the country and are growing in popularity, Schultz said.

"The second thing was a wobble sphere, and it has been real popular because you can have one kid sit inside or three climb inside, and with your body you can get it to spin or someone can step outside and spin you," Schultz explained.

The playground concept from St. Croix Recreation will give children and families 30 opportunities for play.

The company Northland Recreation came in second place overall in the ranking process.

Timeline for playground

Playground equipment will arrive in four weeks and the goal will be to install it right after site improvements are finishing up.

A sidewalk will border the playground to provide greater access. The park will offer shelter with stone columns and picnic tables nearby.

"One of the number one requests brought up during discussion was the topic of shade, and we are putting shade over it so we can have shade at all times and we will include large umbrellas that will be like the wind sails," Schultz said.

Droste requested trees be planted near park benches right away so tree canopies will provide shade in 10 years.

In about four weeks, residents can access the park using the trails. The city will send letters and notify neighbors via social media like Facebook. A park ribbon cutting will be planned this summer.

"Soon it will take shape and people are getting excited," Schultz said, adding he receives at least three or four emails a week about the playground equipment.

"I thought it was worth our time and it was worth the time of the youth commission," Schultz said.

"One of the positive notes was that it did match up with their choice and our parks and rec," Council member Jeff Weisensel said.