Check out your newest park playground

Published 11:03 pm Friday, August 30, 2019

By Kevin D. Nelson

Austin Parks and Recreation

Preparation has been in the works for months at Shirley Theel Memorial Park to install playground equipment which was actually acquired late in 2018.

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As many may recollect, we had a very wet first half of 2019, which led to much water retention in lowlands throughout the Austin area. Lowlands, what has this to do with Shirley Theel Park, at one of the highest elevations in Austin, one might ask?

Kevin Nelson

It’s been said that the park was actually a high slough 50 or more years ago, a place where locals hunted ducks. So, even though there is a wonderful layer of top soil, underneath it lies much clay, which is capable of holding water in those low spots for extended periods of time. Thus, it may, indeed, have been a slough. So, when the parks crew dug into the ground where the equipment was to be placed, they encountered moisture, and then, surprise, it rained some more!

It was about this time that area residents may have wondered if Parks and Rec was adding a wading pool to Shirley Theel Park, as water stood in the cordoned-off, to-be-playground area. Eventually, the work crew was able to begin adding truckloads of rock to the clay base and then more rock. When it was finally ready and firmed up several weeks ago, the work crew was able to auger holes to begin setting and concreting in place the play equipment. Then came preparation for the ‘poured in place’ cushioning base.

The pros who work with this rubber material expressed that they weren’t yet satisfied with the level of rock under the equipment, so additional rock was brought in last week.

As one can now see, the rubber has been poured, and the tan/black coloring troweled over it to give it an attractive appearance and one that’s blends well in this setting. Now that the rubber material has fully cured, equipment pieces are being bolted on top of their respective bases.

Wood chips have also been added beneath other eqipment, and the swings will be installed once rubber matting has been fastened in place beneath where they will be attached. The dirt pile, as popular as it is with the kids, will likely be removed! Thanks for your patience with this project.

Related to poured-in-place underlayment for playground equipment, matching grants were secured (thanks for your work on this last year, Kim) through Minnesota Deaprtment of Natural Resources and Hormel Foundation to add this same rubber material under the Purple Playground equipment in Todd Park. So, watch for this enhancement to take place in Todd Park in 2020.

Trout in Todd

Speaking of Todd Park, it is exciting news, indeed, regarding the trout stocking which will begin starting next April. Avid and amateur trout seekers are expected to collect along the banks of the creek within Todd Park, trying their luck at landing one or more of the wily fish once the season opens next year. Most park users will have noticed the bike/walking path bridge and trail leading up to it have been damaged in recent flooding events within the park. The intent is to remove the old bridge yet this fall. It is hoped that it can/will be replaced in 2020. Could this make for a good future trout fishing spot? We’ll see! We do know that it will make for a big improvement to this vital link in the bike/pedestrian trail.

New disc golf baskets

Three disc golf baskets will be installed at Todd Park in the area of fields 10 and 11.

The department has worked with player reps to determine best-for-all-concerned locations for the baskets. Disc golf improvements will also take place at Driesner Park were seven new tee boxes will be installed in correlation with existing baskets. Watch for the above disc golf changes and additions in the next couple of weeks, weather permitting.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, hopefully outside!