State grant aims for accessible growth of Cascade Lake Park nature-play area

·2 min read

Dec. 3—The latest grant for Cascade Lake Regional Park will expand the playground in a way that is more accessible for children with physical challenges.

"What really makes this project stand out is its focus on providing all children with the ability to play alongside one another in almost any area of the new playground," said Parks and Forestry Division Head Mike Nigbur in a statement announcing the $379,000 grant from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.

The grant funds nearly half of the $760,000 project, which will create more than 20,000 square feet of play area with accessible walkways, a sandstone carving wall and sensory garden.

"We hope this expansion positively impacts all users through a unique blend of play, sensory interactions and traditional play ideas using more natural elements," Nigbur said. The project that will more than double the park's dedicated play space.

One of the main differences between the existing play area and the expansion will be the use of poured-in-place rubber surfacing for pathways and play areas.

Rochester park planner Jeff Fleece said the poured rubber is expensive, which limits its use in city parks, where engineered wood fiber or crumb rubber are more often used to meet federal safety and accessibility requirements.

Work on the project will occur alongside work funded by the 2022 state bonding project proposal, which provides $2.5 million, from the state.

The work is part of the Cascade Regional Park Master Plan, which has benefitted from a portion of the more than $5.7 million the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Legacy Fund has provided for the city's three regional parks.

Cascade Lake Regional Park has had several enhancements, including the preparations this fall for the future fishing pier, which will be provided and installed by the state in the spring..

Also in 2022, Cascade Lake Regional Park efforts will aim to add an amphitheater, park pavilion, park shelter, water feature and a central drop-off area.

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