Rebuilding Little Bear Park

August  13, 2013

     Maquoketa is looking for volunteers, donations, and tools to rebuild a beloved, wooden playground. The original playground in Little Bear Park was built in 1992, and was torn down two weeks ago because of safety concerns.

     Project general coordinator, Sarah Johnston, says the playground was often compared to a "tree-fort", and had huge sentimental value for local residents. "I'm not from Maquoketa. I live in DeWitt, and I wear my Little Bear Park t-shirt out a lot. And there's a lot of people that tell me they come here with their kids, or have come here with their kids, and it's one of the things their kids remember down the road for years to come," she says.

     The new playground was designed by the same firm that built the original, Leathers and Associates from New York. It used ideas and drawings from Maquoketa elementary school students.

     Johnston says the new playground will look very similar to the old one, but with new attractions, including a tractor, a rocket, a moving fire truck, and a pirate ship. It will also feature a sprinkler system for hot days, and be accessible for people with disabilities. "We have pieces of equipment that you can wheel wheelchairs up on to that will move. We have some low activities for children to do. We're going to be putting in a rubber surface to help make the structure completely accessible to everybody," she says.

     Construction will begin September 10th, and last six days. Johnston says they are hoping for about 750 volunteers for each day, and are still need to raise 20-thousand dollars to reach their goal of 315-thousand. They also need donated tools, which will be returned when the playground is finished.