MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Nearly all of the third-grade students at Briggs Elementary school wanted to see a tire swing in the design for the new play structure at Little Bear Park.
Others wanted a climbing wall. A pirate ship was a priority for other students and a fourth-grader wanted a tree fort.
All of those elements are part of the preliminary design revealed Thursday night for the new Little Bear Park play structure.
Jane Holman of Leathers and Associates, an Ithaca, N.Y., design firm, met with elementary school students from Briggs, Cardinal and Sacred Heart schools Thursday morning to get their ideas for the new park. Holman spent several hours Thursday afternoon along with Dave Johnson, also of Leathers, making preliminary drawings.
The two will take the preliminary drawings, finalize the details and give a cost estimate to the community committee in a couple of weeks.
The original Little Bear Park was built by volunteers over five days in May 1992. But Leathers officials say the wooden structure has outlived its usefulness. The new one will be plastic, built with no nails and no wood. In 1992, the community raised $55,000 and received a $19,000 grant from the R.J. Carver Foundation.
This time, community members will pitch in to build it again, but the estimated cost is $225,000 with the city and school kicking in $150,000. No date has been set for the construction, but it is expected to be this summer. Fundraisers are planned and picket fence posts engraved with names will be sold for $50 each.
About 75 parents and students listened as Holman explained the process Thursday night. Children joined her in front of the preliminary design, and she took them through each piece.
There is a pirate ship, a tire swing, tree fort and a rock climbing wall that will resemble the caves at Maquoketa Caves State Park. There’s also a rocket, bouncy bridge, little bear bounce toy, sand box and fire station, along with traditional swings and slides. Another element will be water misters. Play areas for little kids and big kids are planned.
Briggs principal Pat Bollman said the existing structure will be torn down and the new one built on the same site adjacent to the school.
Tom Schueller, one of the parents who helped out 20 years ago, described helping to build the swing structure. Since then, his construction company has assisted in building playgrounds in Andrew and at Cardinal Elementary and Sacred Heart Elementary schools. Schueller said today’s playgrounds are so much different than Little Bear because of technology.
“It was amazing,” Dr. Bruce D’Agostino, a Maquoketa dentist, recalled of the first park. “It was the most rewarding experience. It’s amazing that many people together completed something.”
Volunteer signup sheets were available for various parts of the project and many took information home to study.
“Remember Noah’s ark was built by volunteers. The Titanic was built by professionals,” Holman told the group.
Anyone wishing to contribute to or volunteer to help construct a new play structure at Little Bear Park is asked to call Maquoketa City Hall, 563-652-2484