Riverside rejuvenated

Tucked away as it is down an alleyway off from 8th Avenue NW, the new play equipment at Riverside Park may have gone unnoticed by Minoters living outside the neighborhood just northeast of Oak Park. The Playcraft Systems playground was installed last week and features three slides, a little rock wall and monkey bars, designed with children aged 5 to 12 in mind.

Costing $33,750, the equipment replaces that which was torched by vandals one morning last October. Insurance paid for everything, except for the $5,000 deductible, which the Saint Joseph’s Community Health Foundation paid.

Horace-based company My Turn Playstations won the bid for the work, completing everything in only two-and-a-half days’ time. In addition to putting together and installing the equipment, My Turn also put up retainment edging and laid down some shock-absorbing wood fiber.

But while the playground is better than before, the rest of Riverside needs a bit of attention. The two tennis courts are weedy and need resurfacing, and the public restrooms could use a lick of paint and some edgework. Part of the delay is the park’s lower priority within the systemwide scope of repairs, but part of it is uncertainty of where future river diversion will be sited.

“We don’t know yet,” explained Brian Mathson, head of the city maintenance department.

The playground was repositioned further from the levee than before just in case, and depending on the diversion project Riverside Park could lose up to half of its current space. But Mathson is certain that “this park will change a lot.”

A lot and house ruined during the 2011 Souris River flood at the park’s northeastern corner have been donated to the city, and Mathson would like to get some feedback from residents of the neighborhood as to what they might like to see by way of facilities there. “Time permitting,” maintenance should reseed the grass and perhaps even get the fishing platform back into the water.

In addition, the swing set has been rechained by the city and repainted by volunteers, and two replacement doors for the restrooms have just arrived, ready to install. Volunteers from all walks of life have done a great deal of repair work around the city, for which Mathson has been grateful. A surprising amount of help has actually come from groups on Minot Air Force Base.

“The Air Force has been really good to us with their volunteer groups,” Mathson said.

The maintenance department has its hands fairly full with projects around the park system, including ongoing repairs at the Roosevelt Park pool, various zoo repairs, and putting the finishing touches to the city’s baseball fields.