Jan 21, 2023 6:31 PM

Playground raises $1M; Work begins on closed Jefferson Street crossing

Posted Jan 21, 2023 6:31 PM

By Beacon Staff

Slowly but surely, funding is rolling into the Dankwardt Park Playground project.

Eric Tysland, Community Development and Parks Director reported that nearly $1 million has been raised or committed to the new playground, which will be installed later this year. That includes in-kind donations and services from area businesses.

The $1.9 million playground will be accessible to all children and designed with features specifically catered to those with special needs. Fundraising is ongoing.

“Hopefully, the playground will be completed this summer,” Tysland said.

Measuring 6,500 square feet, the playground will include a wheelchair-inclusive spinner, wheelchair-inclusive swings, a tire swing, musical instruments, rocks for climbing, swinging benches for parents, and a double tower structure that reaches into the trees.

The city hired Confluence, an architecture and urban design firm out of Cedar Rapids, to design the playground.

“We want to bring the playground up into the trees. Kind of that tree house effect. There’s a lot of unique opportunities for play in this tower,” Tysland said.

Tysland said beloved aspects of the old playground will be incorporated into the new one. The west side of the playground will be designated as a play area for toddlers between the ages of 2 and 5. The area will also be festooned with benches for parents, and a landscaped berm will surround part of the playground to encourage children to stay in the play area.

Tysland said the playground will offer a challenging and imaginative experience. The layout will allow individuals of all ages and abilities to explore, have fun, interact, and enjoy the park.

Nick MacGregor, assistant city manager for public works, had some good news for the council regarding the rail crossing at the 800 block of Jefferson Street.

The crossing, which has been closed since June of 2022, will be open sooner rather than later. Portzen Construction crews started work to cut away curbing near the railroad crossing at the 800 block of Jefferson Street Monday.

By reducing the curbing altered by TIGER-granted funded construction, the crossing can be reopened without disrupting the quiet zone, which bars passing trains from blowing their horns.

MacGregor and Burlington Mayor Jon Billups have been adamant about getting the crossing reopened since it was closed six months ago. The closure, instigated by BNSF, has been a continuing source of contention between BNSF and the city.

In other business, the council approved:

• The city’s Goal Setting Final Report and Priorities for 2022-2024.

• A resolution approving nuisance abatements for various properties.

• A resolution approving an application for funds through the enhanced Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism Program of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

• Resolution approving an agreement for professional services for the Dankwardt Park playground project

• Resolution authorizing the filing of an application with the state of Iowa and Southeast Iowa Regional Planning for STBG Funds for improvements on Sunnyside Avenue from U.S. 61 to Osborn Street.