As soon as the ground thaws, Cliff Fen Park's Skyland Playground will undergo a $300,000 facelift, complete with a new moniker. City staff promises that the new playground will be equal or better than the previous one.
The play area near the Minnesota River has long been a favorite of the Burnsville community.
"This is a destination playground," Terry Schutz, director of Natural Resources, said during a meeting on Nov. 19. "It's truly one of a kind in our community."
Skyland Playground was built in 1990 with funds and volunteers from a business named Skyline Displays. The distinctive wooden castle structure was dismantled in November. City staff told the Parks & Natural Resources Commission that the 22-year-old playground equipment had exceeded its life expectancy and become unsafe.
Originally, the city had set aside $350,000 for the playground's eventual replacement, but budget strictures reduced the fund by $100,000, Schultz told the commission. In view of the shortfall, Schultz and his employees began seeking private donations in exchange for naming rights. The city's solicitation gave some members of the commission cause for concern, including Len Nachman, who wanted a guarantee of sorts that the playground wouldn't be "given some funky name" just for money.
By this week, the commission's qualms seem to have been alleviated. On Monday, the measure passed with little discussion. In December, it was revealed that the Burnsville Lions Club had committed to contributing $50,000 towards the playground, about $20,000 more than called for in previous discussions. The funds will allow the city to add another tower into the structure, along with a web climber. The Lions Club also hinted that it may kick in support for further expansion, perhaps by adding some water features.
The total cost of the new playground is $300,000.
The proposal will next go to the council, which will consider the matter at its next meeting on Jan. 22. If approved, the city hopes to begin construction as soon as spring sets in, with a grand opening tentatively scheduled for "I Love Burnsville Week."
Once opened, the area will be known as the “Burnsville Lions Playground.” The metal and plastic structure is expected to have a 40 to 50 year life expectancy, with a lifetime warranty.