March 31, 2008

Ankeny citizens vote for new playground design

ANKENY, Iowa -- On March 25, neighbors of Somersby Park were invited to cast a vote for their favorite park playground design. With three designs to choose from, over 50 votes were cast, including votes from a number of kids that had the opportunity to select what amenities will be in their new playground.

The three designs, provided by Boland Recreation, Inc., varied by the types of swings, slides, climbing walls and teeter totters, as well as the shape of the playground area. A company representative was also on hand during the voting to answer questions and explain how each piece of equipment worked.

The winning design features a large tower structure, a set of swings and unique equipment from the Xccent playground company called the Gyro and the X-Wave 2.

One young man, participating in the democratic process for the first time, cast his vote and then excitedly asked, "Can we go play there now?"

Playground voting is one way Ankeny engages its citizens in projects and activities and advances the city council's goal to promote active lifestyles and community involvement. The process begins with a series of neighborhood meetings in which city staff work with residents to determine the types of amenities that will be included in the park and what the playground will look like. Staff then begins work with a design team in developing three different playground designs. Neighborhood residents are invited back a month or so later to vote on which one of the three designs they like best. The design with the most votes is the one that is installed in the park. All are eligible to vote – especially the kids, as they will be the primary users of the playground!

The winning playground will be installed in June as part of the initial development phase of the park. Other improvements include landscaping, a trail loop and the Fallen Soldier Memorial Plaza, in honor of an Ankeny soldier and resident of the Somersby neighborhood, recently killed in the war. The seven acre park will eventually grow to nearly 14 acres, through future land acquisition.

Ankeny was selected as one of 31 Playful City USA communities in the inaugural year of the national recognition program administered by the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play. KaBOOM! is a national non-profit that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

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