Plans Are Underway for Summer Renovation of Creekside Kingdom

Lowell children are soon to have a brand new, upgraded play structure, and the community will have a big hand in making that happen.

The 30 year-old play structure at Creekside Park, known as Creekside Kingdom, is set to be replaced by an all-new structure. The Lowell Rotary Club has taken on the replacement of the structure as a community service project. They are in the final stages of reaching their financial goals and are in the beginning stages of making construction plans.

Co-chairs of the Lowell Rotary Club Creekside Kingdom project, who are raising the funds and organizing all aspects of the renovation, say they are waiting to hear the outcome of two large grant applications and a few private individual donors before they officially release construction dates.

Project Co-Chair Theresa Mundt says more than $211,000 of the project goal of $400,000 has been raised. She says if the grant resources come through, the goal will be reached. A large sign near the playground will be erected with information on the project and construction volunteer information.

Creekside Park, located on Gee Drive, is a 22-acre park that has baseball and soccer fields, a volleyball court, and a community garden. It is a place where the community gathers for outdoor events. The Creekside Kingdom play structure is the centerpiece of the park and was constructed by community members in 1994. It is expected that community members will also construct the new play structure.

Donations and grants are funding the entire cost of the new play structure. The Lowell Rotary Club held an auction in the spring which raised $49,700 for the project. The King Milling Company donated $75,000 which motivated the Rotary Club to honor the company by changing the name of the play structure to “King Milling Creekside Kingdom.” The Lowell City Council has already approved the name change.

Rotary Club Committee Co-Chair Cody Chambers says there are many options available to name components of the play structure for other large donors. He also notes that many donors are choosing to remain anonymous.

The old play structure is wooden and will be completely replaced with composite materials. The ground material will also be replaced with an engineered wood fiber for easier wheelchair and child stroller accessibility.

“It’s all coming down and being rebuilt brand new,” Chambers says. “Nothing’s going to get reused… so it should last well past 30 years. Basically (the ground covering) will compact so that anybody in a wheelchair or crutches can access any part of the park.”

One of the many upgrades to the structure is that it will be ADA compliant and will have ramps allowing for better accessibility. Chambers says there will be “therapeutic” swings that will accommodate wheelchairs.

The new structure will have more swings, towers, a rock climbing wall, and a ninja-warrior style course, among many other components. The new play area will be the same square footage as the old one, and the sidewalks and surrounding area will not change.

Mundt and Chambers say many of the ideas for the new play structure came from local elementary children. Last fall, students were asked to draw their ideal play structure and about 200 drawings were submitted.

“There were some interesting ideas,” Chambers says. “Not everything that they drew got included. One kid wanted an alligator pit.” Still, the goal was to incorporate suggestions that were feasible. “They’re the ones using it so they have the ideas that we need to run with,” according to Chambers.

Leathers and Associates is the company that designed the new structure, and Mundt says they also designed the old structure 30 years ago..

Mundt says community volunteers will play a large part in the construction of the structure. Though the exact dates of construction have not been named while the final funding is acquired, the Rotary Club is optimistic that construction will take place this summer.

Mundt says she hopes to have a community meeting in July regarding the project to share specific construction information.

“Just like it was 30 years ago, we need multiple volunteers,” she explains.

Mundt and Chambers say once the dates for construction are set, community members will be a part of almost every part of the demolition of the old structure and the building of the new. They say families are welcome to come and help, but the construction company prefers children come only for the final days of work due to safety issues.

“They want families involved, but they almost prefer the kids later when they’re finishing things up, not when you’re cutting and there’s power tools and all that… the last two days are safer for kids because most of the work is done,” Chambers says.

As with the old playground, community members can also help with funding the project by “purchasing” elements of the new structure. Pickets lining the outside of the play structure can be purchased for $150, and up to 22 characters can be engraved on the picket with the person’s or family’s name. Mundt says there are still close to 300 pickets available for purchase.

Chambers says benches and playground components are also available to purchase and have names engraved. Benches cost $500 and the rock wall is $3,000.

Pickets surrounding the old structure will be returned to the original owners, if desired. Chambers says during demolition, each picket will be saved. “I don’t think everybody has reached out for every picket on there, there’s a lot,” he says. “But we definitely want to get them back to the people whose names are on there.”

Mundt, who helped build the old structure 30 years ago, says food will be provided each day, and demolition and construction is expected to take four to five days. Volunteers do not need to be skilled in any way, and most people will be assigned general labor tasks.

Mundt and Chambers agree that finding volunteers for this project will not be a problem.

“Finding volunteers shouldn’t be an issue,” according to Chambers. “Lowell’s full of people that are willing to help, whether it’s financially or just their time. I think when the day comes we’ll have an army of people ready to go.”

Volunteers can sign up and get more information on the Lowell Rotary Club Facebook page or by accessing a QR code that will be on the sign erected near the current structure. They can also send an email to [email protected].

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