The Lexington Athletic Complex playground in Blaine will be expanded by the end of June.
At its April 6 meeting, the Blaine City Council approved an expenditure of $150,000 for St. Croix Recreation to install the new equipment.
The 38-acre Lexington Athletic Complex – that also includes ball fields, multipurpose fields, tennis and pickleball courts, a basketball court and a barn-shaped community building for meeting rooms and a concession stand – opened in August 2015.
It’s the largest park developed in Blaine’s history, according to Jerome Krieger, a recreation manager for the city’s parks department who supervised the project from conception to construction.
A barnyard theme playground has been so popular that residents have asked the city to expand it and add equipment that older kids would want to use, according to Krieger.
Currently, there is a barn and tractor shaped equipment that includes short slides and ladders and a couple of spring-loaded barnyard animals for little kids to ride on. The existing equipment will stay where it is and the new equipment will be installed next to it.
Rather than seeking sealed bids, Krieger told companies to submit proposals with the understanding that the equipment should be geared toward kids ages 6 and older and it should cost no more than $150,000.
“It was up to them to wow us and bring us the best design possible,” he said.
Blaine received proposals from St. Croix Recreation, Minnesota/Wisconsin Playground and Flagship Recreation. Flagship’s proposal came in around $148,000 and the other two submitted the maximum allowed bid of $150,000, although Krieger said St. Croix Recreation was providing a 19 percent discount because the amount of equipment it is putting in has a higher cost.
“It’s a terrific deal for the equipment we’re getting,” said Mayor Tom Ryan.
There were a couple of specific requests from Krieger to the companies. He asked for a zip line, since that has been a wildly popular feature of the Aquatore Park playground.
Mike Basich, a representative for St. Croix Recreation, said the Burke brand playground they are installing at the Lexington Athletic Complex by the end of June will include a 75-foot zip line. He pointed out that it will be a real zip line and not just a rail, which means a smoother ride.
There’s a slight slope in the area where the zip line is being placed “so kids will get some extra power going down the zip line,” Krieger said.
The playground will include many areas for kids to climb.
Arm strength is challenged by the “Plexus Overhead” where children swing from one bar to another in a circle.
And there’s equipment to climb straight up to get a higher vantage point before climbing back down.
There are still traditional playground features such as slides.
One feature is branded by the company as its “Taktiks Climbers.” Instead of stationary pieces of equipment to climb on, there’s movable pieces that kids need to balance on as they maneuver from one end to another.
“It’s geared toward dynamic play,” Basich said. “Not only does the child move on the equipment, but the equipment moves with the child. It’s geared toward building agility, coordination and strength.”