ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — St. Paul’s Cherokee Regional Park reopened recently after a $342 thousand overhaul. Designers tried to make the new playground challenging and different, but the city is hearing it may be a bit too out of the box.
The 24-foot tall sky tower is the focal point of the newly redone park.
“It’s good exercise and good adventuring,” said Jim Ingemunson, who lives near the park.
“There was a real desire to have something unique and challenging,” said Alice Messer, Manager of Design and Construction for St. Paul Parks and Recreation
What some call a healthy challenge, others call a hazard.
“I guess there’s some parents that are thinking this has been a really scary frightening thing for 5-year-olds,” parent Nikki Putnam said.
“We have heard some negative comments,” Messer said. “And I’ll be honest– its hard, and we’re surprised.”
Messer says some community members expressed concerns about safety of the sky tower, lack of community input, and limited options for all ages.
“People felt like the age range from four to eight maybe wasn’t accommodated for,” she said.
To address those concerns, the city is looking at modifying the existing equipment– maybe adding a slide to the second tier of the sky tower– but that would have to come from private funding dollars.
Messer admits the large budget didn’t go as far as designers hoped, forcing cuts on landscaping and seating options.
“The bids came in too high, so we had to go back and redesign it,” Messer said.
When visiting the park, plenty of older children can be seen enjoying the sky tower. Ten-year-old Talia Saum was one of them.
“It’s really fun for older kids to do,” she said.
But it was a bit advanced for her 2-year-old cousin.
“It was tricky because he kept on falling through,” Talia said.
At this park, the sky is the limit– so you have to know how far your own little ones can go.
“Doesn’t hurt to be scared once in a while a little bit and to do something you’re not used to doing,” Ingemunson said.
The cost of the project also included things like bike racks, a bench swing and a new basketball court in the area surrounding the playground. Officials with Parks and Rec tell us they have already had one meeting with concerned families.