Presque Isle playground still in works

MARQUETTE – The Presque Isle Park playground project is moving along with a location and design set.

The Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee has been looking into an all-inclusive playground for a site near MooseWood Nature Center. The nature-themed proposed concept includes foot bridges, a swing area, sand play and other features.

The site by MooseWood was chosen for the amenities it offered, including availability of accessible restrooms at the center.

“It’s a playground for everyone, including the caregivers, parents, all of that, because it’s a universal design,” said Joan Miller, a PIPAC member who also belongs to the Friends of Presque Isle Park Group, the group in charge of fundraising.

Miller said she’s passionate about the project because children in wheelchairs would have the opportunity to play and socialize.

“That is so important, because that’s what they do when they’re little,” she said.

There had been concern expressed among local birders the playground would disrupt activity at the MooseWood bird feeders, but Bob Chapman, PIPAC chair, said those concerns have been addressed and the playground would attract visitors to the center.

MooseWood Executive Director Andrew Bek, also a PIPAC member, said, “I still think the proposed playground, if done as envisioned, will be an asset to the Presque Isle Park, to the children of our community and as an added attraction to draw visitors to MooseWood,” Bek said.

Scot Stewart, chairman of the MooseWood board of directors, indicated he hopes the parking lot traffic flow plan is solid, because a safe traffic flow and separation between the playground and bird feeders and entrance should lead to a good relationship between birders, the nature center and the playground users.

Chapman said poured rubber, not wood chips, will be used as a base for the playground.

Three options are being considered, with varying price tags. The “dream option” would cost about $838,398, the “middle option” with fewer amenities would cost about $597,394 and the ” basic option” would run about $354,582.

Miller said good landscaping would cost more, but would add to the site.

“We can get what we want without having to pay that much,” she said. “but it’d really be nice to have it look beautiful.”

Fundraising now is a focus, with the Friends group looking into possible sources such as equipment makers, Michigan Department of Natural Resources grants for recreational facilities, companies, private foundations, service groups and individuals.

Chapman said once a new playground is put into place, the current playground on the other side of Presque Isle would be removed and turned into a family picnic area.

He said the Marquette City Commission has approved the site for the new play area, and once finished, the playground would be maintained by the city.

The planned completion date is summer 2016.

To donate, send a check payable to the Marquette County Community Foundation (listing Friends as the recipient), 401 E. Fair Ave., Marquette, MI 49855.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.