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Inclusive playground to be built this summer in Cottage Grove

A proposed inclusive playground at Woodridge Park would include elements that are easily accessible and catered to a variety of kids' needs. The play area would be about 23,000 square feet, significantly larger than the current structure. (Submitted illustration)1 / 3
Depending on how much money is put toward the Woodridge Park inclusive playground before the summer build, the park could be fully built, it could exclude the demarcated area pictured at far right or it could exclude both areas marked in black. (Submitted illustration)2 / 3
Recreation supervisor Molly Pietruszewski displays checks from four donations to the Woodridge Park inclusive playground project in January. (Bulletin photo by Katie Nelson)3 / 3

For four and a half years, recreation supervisor Molly Pietruszewski has been working toward her dream of a Cottage Grove inclusive playground for children of all abilities at Woodridge Park.

Construction will start this summer, making that dream a reality.

The city council March 1 approved staff to seek bids from state contract construction companies.

The inclusive playground is currently 90 percent funded — or just under $690,000 — by donations and pledges. A number of options are available to solve the $76,000 shortage.

Pietruszewski said the council could "hold off on other projects and fund this." Also, the playground could be built incomplete this summer, leaving off musical equipment or music and balance equipment.

The $690,000 already pledged will fund a "base option." The next alternative adds the balance equipment for an additional $40,000. The estimated cost of a complete playground is $765,000.

There is also a possibility the final 10 percent could be raised by construction time.

Donations from the community and businesses are still being accepted, and there are more donations on the way, such as an expected $21,000 donation from a regional Rotary Club.

Pietruszewski will also hear soon on whether the project won a $100,000 grant from the Lions Club International that could fund the rest of the playground, with funds to spare.

A big build

Pietruszewski gave her first presentation to city staff in January 2013, and an inclusive playground task force held its first meeting that April. Project proponents will see construction begin in May.

Pietruszewski said Woodridge Park has 900 tons of extra topsoil that can be utilized by the central fire station construction project, also to start this spring, and there is other dirt on the fire station site that can be used at Woodridge Park.

The dirt exchange will save money on both projects. Rumpca Services has agreed to move the dirt for free between the fire station site on 80th Street and Woodridge Park on 90th Street.

Aggregate Industries recently pledged to provide aggregate resources for the playground, and the work done by Bolton and Menk was done in-kind. By the end of the project, donated services and materials will amount to almost $100,000.

Site grading will have to be completed at Woodridge to prepare for the playground. That will include removing the current playground equipment, some brush and the wooden steps leading toward the adjacent wooded area, wood chips and a few trees in the project area.

Pietruszewski estimates that construction of the playground equipment will begin in August, and her goal is to hold a grand opening in September.

Some of the companies that gave large donations asked that they and their employees be a part of the building process. After three days of business building, there will be a community build day where residents are welcome to put pieces of the playground in place.

During the construction period, the park will still be open and shelter rental available. However, Pietruszewski said by May they won't guarantee the playground will be available with the rental.