“You guys did all the work – I didn’t have to do any work at all,” joked Campbell, a designer with Leathers & Associates.
Friday night’s unveiling of the new play area – which will replace the original play structure built 27 years ago at Mulligan’s Hollow – drew more than 300 people to the Tri-Cities Family YMCA.
The ceremony was a culmination of a week of tireless work by dozens of local students. They visited parks across West Michigan, met with children with special needs, built models of their ideal playgrounds, then presented their ideas to designers Friday morning.
The new play area – which will cost approximately $500,000 — will boast an unmistakable Grand Haven flare. The design includes a Coast Guard boat, a lighthouse, a bridge resembling the cat walk, along with a rope climbing wall, a twisty tube slide, a shaky bridge, monkey bars, a cargo net and a variety of different swings.
The biggest applause from the kids came when Campbell mentioned misters, which will spray cool mist down on kids as they climb through.
Another area of the playground — geared toward kids ages 2-5 — will feature a tree house and a train, along with a wide slide, an arch climber, a wavy bridge, a four-person seesaw, a game table and a climbing net.
“All of you put that on your modules,” Campbell said.
A majority of the play area is wheelchair accessible – an aspect stressed by the kids who helped the contribute the design.
Two areas of covered seating will be available for parents looking to escape from the sun.
The surface of the play area will be poured-in-place rubber.
“This playground is all about Grand Haven,” added fellow designer Maegan Marcheggiani. “It’s going to feel like Grand Haven and look like Grand Haven. It’s all yours. And this theme was chosen based on what we heard from the people in this room.”
Marcheggiani stressed that the new play area won’t come as a kit.
“Everything is built here on site by hand,” she said.
That means volunteers will be needed to help construct the play area.
“Hopefully we’ll see every one of you on that build out there,” Marcheggiani said.
In the mean time, the community will be asked to cover the $500,000 cost of the project.
“As this play space is for everyone in this community, it’s going to take everyone in the community to help pay for this,” said Katie Appold, who along with Mary TenCate will work as the project’s fundraising chairs.
“We’re so thankful for what the kids did today,” added event coordinator Chris Streng. “They had the opportunity to make an impression, and we cherish that. Now it’s our turn, as parents and leaders, to carry the mission forward.”
Streng said work is expected to begin on the new Imagination Station in the fall of 2018. The current playground will remain open until then.