ROSEMOUNT - Schwarz Pond Park will soon feature nature-based play pieces, designed to allow youngsters to use their imaginations to explore forts and climb boulders, walls and balance beams. The equipment is constructed with tree branches, logs and tree stumps.

"The nature-based playgrounds are becoming more and more popular around the Twin Cities," said Rosemount Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz, during the June 24 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. "We are definitely looking to make this a destination."

The playground design area was created by St. Paul-based Fern Firm.

Playground equipment

The preliminary design shows a natural play area with a 65-foot zip line.

"The reason this design is called preliminary is because the project will be more of a design build once we start seeing what natural materials we have to work with," Schultz said.

Play area components will be conducive to imaginative play such as a fort with a log river and a climbing apparatus and a frog pond area encircled by a natural play area. The play area will offer large logs with various size boulders.

The city will work with three different companies that build nature-based playgrounds and have access to the materials. After the firms source materials, the companies will come back to the commission for final approval on plans of how to place stumps and logs within the park play area spaces. The layout shows a toddler play area, a balance beam area constructed with natural resources and a climbing wall.

"The big thing will be being able to run and manipulate some of the stumps and boulders," Schultz said.

A playground diagram presented shows a concrete apron in the playground area with two boulders that can be moved with a bobcat and tear out or rebuilt play features if the public or commission does not like certain features.

"You are not locked in with a 20- to 25-year playground plan that we have just paid $8,000 for because you can go in there and you can manipulate this stuff around," Schultz said.

The play area will be framed with limestone boulders and the design includes two oak trees that will provide park visitors shade most of the day. The plan is to plant a few more trees along the hill side.

Funding

In 2018, funds were directed to replace the playground equipment at Schwarz Pond Park in Rosemount.

Rosemount will be awarded a community development block grant from Dakota County for $47,000 that will cover playground ramps in 13 city parks. Grant funds will allow the city to build picnic table pads for four city parks that will make the parks more ADA accessible, including Schwarz Pond Park.

"We are starting to get rid of all those really, really heavy wood benches and picnic tables like we had over at Connemara Park and we are going with the steel picnic tables that have one end or both ends that are handicap accessible with a ramp," Schultz said.

Three firms will come back to the city staff with bids later this week.