Improvements coming to Mendota Heights parks

courtesy of City of Mendota Heights Improvements are proposed for the playgrounds at Wentworth Park, 739 Wentworth Ave., and Hagstrom-King Park, 555 Mendota Heights Road. However, the Mendota Heights City Council is asking city staffers to work on reducing the final price tags.

Tony Sanneh

Price leaves some council members with sticker shock


As spring takes hold, the Mendota Heights City Council is looking at improving two area parks. 

The council awarded contracts March 19 for improvements to the playgrounds at Wentworth and Hagstrom-King parks, though some council members were shocked by how much the work was estimated to cost.


Wentworth Park

Ryan Ruzek, public works director, said the Parks and Recreation Commission developed a subcommittee to find equipment vendors and to work up new playground layouts for the parks. 

Work on the playground at Wentworth Park includes replacing its dated equipment, some of which goes back to 1989. Additions will include a companion swing, a see-saw, a tospy-turney spinner, fire pole and chinning bar. A space near the parking lot has an existing landscape structure that will remain. The playground surface will be replaced with new wood chips.

Ruzek said improvements are estimated to cost $149,000. He said there could be some cost savings if park maintenance staffers did some of the demolition and disposal of old equipment. The project is funded by the special park fund and the city is applying for grants to cover costs too.

The city will be notified in early summer if it’s selected for the grants, and installation of the new playground equipment is slated for early July.

Council member Joel Paper said the estimated cost was shocking, pointing out aesthetic features like “tree toppers” for poles that cost $1,000 each. He also floated reusing equipment that still has some life left.

“Before we commit to spending $145,000 on some teeter-totters, I just want to make sure that we’re doing it right,” he said. “That there’s not a better way to save a few dollars while reinvigorating a playground.”

Other council members voiced support for a new plan that might be less expensive.


Hagstrom-King Park

Ruzek said the committee and commission recommended a different company for the Hagstrom-King Park playground. It’s being proposed for a complete reconstruction at an estimated cost of $160,000, which would include groundwork and a new layout including a zip line, swing set, spinning structure, tire swing and a playground structure larger than what’s currently there. 

Paper said the new design “pops,” but again asked about possible cost savings and reuse of equipment.

The council, with member Ultan Duggan absent, decided to move forward with the plans, capping their costs at the current estimated prices while city staffers work to find ways to save money.

Any playground work done prior to grant decisions would be ineligible for the money, so work will be on hold until final answers come down.


—Hannah Burlingame

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