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Delayed by flooding, playground installation coming
toddler playground
Shown is the site of the soon-to-be revamped toddler playground at Veterans Memorial Park. Work should resume soon following recent rains and flooding. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

A banner on an orange fence gives a glimpse of the soon-to-be revamped toddler playground at the southeast corner of Veterans Memorial Park. In the background, however, the geese swimming in flooded areas of the lake are a stark reminder of the storms that have delayed the play area’s construction.

But, “installation is scheduled for July 26,” Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis said. “We are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays dry.”

In mid-May, the Public Lands Department removed the faded plastic toys. A community project in the works for about two years was underway to replace the deteriorating 15-plus-year-old equipment and give the area a cheerful upgrade.

Weather permitting, Public Lands Director Scott Keeler’s staff was set to pour concrete and prepare the site May 24 and 25. After that, Public Works would install the fixtures under the supervision of manufacturer Landscape Structures from Delano, Minn.

As we all know, the weather wasn’t having anything to do with this. Rain and runoff filled and flooded Vets Lake, including the playground area.

Now, colorful equipment with structures, swings and other items are waiting to be installed. 

The area will be made handicapped accessible, with designated parking, ramps, a sidewalk and a specially designed swing. It features “smart play structures” including a fire station and playhouse loft in addition to an updating of the current toddler swings and a xylophone-like instrument.  

It was truly a community effort, said Great Bend Recreation Commission Executive Director Diann Henderson, whose personnel will help with the work.

The $87,000 endeavor is a joint project. The GBRC joined with the city and the Golden Belt Community Foundation. The project was born of GBRC’s conversions with the city.

The project is funded in part by the GBRC, which contributed $53,700, and a foundation grant providing $34,047 for the new playground equipment and surfacing. The city is providing the landscaping, site work and concrete work for this new playground project.

The Kiwanis Club is sponsoring additional benches around the new area. 

The new equipment has been in Great Bend for a few months already.

In the future, Henderson said they will be working with the Kiwanis Club to add some sort of shade feature, perhaps even trees.

A grand opening will take place at a later date.