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A lifelong investment in Lanesboro

Mon, Aug 25th, 2014
Posted in Lanesboro Features

Children of Lanesboro Public School's daycare enjoy the new playground equipment recently installed at Sylvan Park. Photo by Michael Hayner

By Michael Hayner

Lanesboro, Minn. is known for many things. Lanesboro has an abundance of clear trout streams, bike paths, beautiful bluffs, and more countryside to explore than many other places.These attractions bring tourists from around the nation. These scenic destinations now have a more youthful companion.

Thanks to the long-lasting efforts of the Lanesboro Swim and Recreation Fundraising Group, Sylvan park now has new playground equipment. Although the most recent project began in October of 2013, the park project began over 20 years ago.

What started out as a small group of local mothers, but eventually grew to a much larger group, The fundraising committee raised money to install a pool in Sylvan Park.

In an email City Administrator David Todd stated that by implementing the time-tested fundraising methods of soup suppers, dances, and Bingo games, money was steadily raised, but when a beer tent was set up for fundraising purposes, “that’s when the donations really started pouring in.”

According to Todd, during the process of fundraising, “One, it was discovered that the liability was too great and two, they didn’t have the room to put a pool in Sylvan Park.”

Because of the issues raised from the pool project, the funds raised were transferred to the Rochester Area Donor Fund, where the donations grew to more than $75,000. With these funds, the Swim and Recreation fund decided replacing the park

equipment was the best option.

As Todd and the park board researched possibilities for the equipment, they found a group called Landscape Structures.This company specializes in concept parks, which are tailored specifically to the community. Many of the structures of the park were designed specifically for Lanesboro, including the zipcruise.

Because of these unique designs, Landscape Structures (also to be noted, they are a Minnesota based company, which was important to Todd and the other park board members) designed a park that will not be found anywhere else.

As the project moved forward, the city felt including the local school district was important. Because the Lanesboro school does not have the room to provide a private playground for school age children, they use the equipment provided in Sylvan Park. Todd approached the school board with mockups of the planned park. Superintendent Jeff Boggs did not seem to consider not funding the park an option. When asked about sharing the costs of the park, Boggs stated, “It has always been that way...at this point in time we needed to upgrade the pieces of equipment we had.” Because the school supported and contributed to renovation of the equipment with $45,000, the addition of “proprietary pieces” that make the park so unique were made possible.

Upon walking into the playground, the joy it brings to children is obvious. The zipcruise is in nonstop motion, children fill the slides, monkey bars, and climbing areas. Parents are chasing through the park attempting to match the energy of their children. On a recent Friday, I visited the park while it was being explored by children from the local day care. This led to a brief interview with Affordable Day Care director Sally Ming. Sally expressed high regard for the Sylvan Park project. She feels the park includes enough variety that the children do not lose interest. The daycare center plans on having a picnic in the park and carrying out some of their day care programs in Sylvan Park.

As a united effort between the city of Lanesboro and the Lanesboro Public Schools, the Sylvan Park addition is a major success. From concept in October of 2013 to design completion in April of 2014 and then a two week build of the park in July, the park was open in time for Buffalo Bill Days.

Overall, the new addition to Sylvan Park seems to please anyone that sees it. To the city administrators, the school board, and especially the children using the equipment, this new and unique park will stand out in the community for years to come. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of mothers, children now have slides, swings, and a zipline to play on while making the hearts of their parents race in excitement as they watch laughing and cheering children race from one obstacle to another.

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