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Landscape and Environmental Design Task Force

The past two months meetings have been open conversations about designs and needs for playgrounds. With this we have presented two surveys to the community to help guide through this process. We would like to thank all of the households that have shared their feedback through email, meetings and the surveys and would like to address a few of the reoccurring topics that have been brought up. 

  1. Safety: All designs follow safety guidelines, standards and best practices. Concerns for areas that "children can fall" are still within guidelines and are age appropriate as labeled on each playground. Playgrounds that are not involved in this round of upgrades are being reviewed for safety improvements until they can be retrofitted or replaced. Ward 7 has been are largest need for replacement based on not only safety, but also functionality. 
  2. Surfacing: For ADA, environmental, and budgetary reason the surface that will be provided will be a Engineered Wood Fiber. Sand is not an option for full playground to accommodate ADA guidelines. Other rubber surfaces would limit the ability to get full playground structure updates. However, we do know that sand is wanted and will try to be incorporated into smaller "sand box" areas. 
  3. Swings:  We know that everyone is very eager to have swings back on property. We have only been allowed to reintroduce toddler and friendship swings. Because of specific fall ratings and distances required for swings, they cannot be incorporated to certain locations. Adding more swings through the phasing up upgrades will be incorporated. 
  4. Age appropriate structures: We are supporting the need of a under 5 years of age structure which has been addressed in the Ward 8 design and improvements to Ward 9. Additional inquiring towards a themed structure is being looked at which would give an additional under 5 option. Also, there will be more integration of under 5 age structures as we move through in the two year timeline of next upgrades. We are also addressing the wants for something more challenging for the older kids. We understand that a lot of structures on property are labeled ages 5-12, but also do not provide much challenge in which we hope Ward 7 will. 
  5. Shade: We hear you loud and clear that you think shade is important to minimize hot surfaces and enjoy your time outside. We cannot cover every surface of the playground with shade, but we are doing our best to help incorporate this feature to allow for a more enjoyable, and more frequent experience at the new structures. As we know we live in extreme climates from cold to hot and have to work with the Nature Minnesota gives us. 
  6. Unstructured play: We are working to figure out next best steps for most conducive unstructured play areas. The Nature inspired design is a small start to this process, but will looked into with more depth moving forward 

We understand that not everyone's comments or requests can be addressed in this year's upgrade, but we will keep these moving into the next phase of upgrades in two years. The committee will be deciding final choices based on community feedback in April with the goal to have all playgrounds in before June for summer enjoyment.