Romkey Park gets new playground

Romkey Park on 20th Street South has been outfitted by the Parks and Recreation Department with all-new playground equipment. (Photo/Russ Hanson.)

Romkey Park on 19th Street South has taken on a fresh new look. In recent days, the Moorhead Parks and Recreation Department has completed installation of a colorful playground complex to replace the aging equipment on which generations of children had played.

The new play system has its ups and downs – lots of them. Four slides range from easy angles for younger children and a double slide to a higher tubular twist. Kids can ascend on plain old steps or take a more challenging route with climbers dubbed the whirlwind, the wavy tree, the hourglass, the plank and the “erratic climber with hex net.”

A crow’s nest is one of two upper chambers, one with a world map on one side and clock on the other. Down below, they can communicate through flower-shaped “talk tubes” and press a button to hear farmyard animals cluck, bleat or whinny.

The total cost of the Romkey Park playgroundm, about $75,000, was offset by a $42,000 matching grant from GameTime Cares, a program to aid cities in the wake of Covid-19.

“We try to upgrade one older neighborhood park every every year,” Parks and Recreation director Holly Heitkamp explains. Last summer, the department made similar upgrades to Bennett Park at 17th Street and Third Avenue South. Next year’s project is the Centennial Dog Park on the north side of the city, where agility equipment, seating and signage will be installed.

Along with the Romkey Park project, Heitkamp reports new swings have gone up at Gooseberry Mound Park, where a sand volleyball complex was also completed at the end of August.

Like active play installations at other parks in recent years, the Romkey addition is both heavy duty and eye-catching, with lead-free red and blue polypropylene coating durable steel structures. “We went with a more natural look for awhile, but we’ve found these attract more kids,” she says. “Kids like brighter things.”

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