On the first Monday of summer vacation, children playing at Bonner Park stopped to peer through a chain-link fence. Behind that fence, a machine worked to build a new playground where they can spend their summer days. “Play is the work of children. It gets them outside and active. We are introducing new ways of play,” Parks Services and Systems Manager David Selvage said.
The Missoula Parks and Recreation are installing new park equipment at Bonner, Franklin, Greenough, McLeod, Northside, Pleasant View, Rainbow, Skyview, Wapikiya and Whitaker parks. Two parks at Fort Missoula are also included. The $1.2 million project is primarily funded by the $42 million countywide Parks and Trails Bond approved by voters in 2014.
The new playground has a ZipKrooz zip line that is ADA-accessible; euro flex balls made of recycled rubber, used for balancing games; and an Explorer Dome, a domelike jungle gym made of rope and bars, Selvage said. The new playground is expected to open for public use Monday afternoon. He said that by mid-July Missoula Parks and Recreation plans to have all but four parks’ equipment installed.
Ezra Williams, a landscape architect with CTA Architects Engineers who designed the parks with Megan McMahon, said they have been working on the parks for over a year now. It’s been a challenge finding the right equipment to serve children of all ages. But in the end, Williams said working on the parks has been a fulfilling challenge. “No one’s going to be happier with your work than kids,” he said. Each park has its own signature piece of playground equipment. Williams said he wanted each park to have its own draw, something that would make each park unique.
MEGHAN MCMAHON, CTA LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT :
We were able to positively impact 10 of Missoula’s neighborhoods with this one project. That’s pretty special — and seeing the kids out there having a great time is awesome! I know what my family will be doing this summer.
Main photo by Tom Bauer of The Missoulian: Employees of Playco work on installing Bonner Park’s new Explorer Dome on Monday. The dome, which features netting and other features for climbing, is one of several new play structures going in at the park.