BACKGROUND: Riverside Playground was built with the love and labor of 700 volunteers over a one week period 20 years ago.

Since then, thousands of kids, parents, and grandparents have enjoyed countless hours at this amazing playground.

They’ve loved it to death. Weather, time, and thousands of small hands and feet have worn it out. Repairing/renovating it would be cost prohibitive, and would leave the City with ongoing maintenance issues.

The La Grande Parks & Recreation Department ran a comprehensive community survey in 2022. Nearly 500 people participated. After follow-up focus groups and extensive review and   discussion, a new Riverside Playground emerged as the preferred Capital Improvement Project.

PLANNING: In response, a Playground Committee was formed. It established a theme for a new park (The Enchanted Forest) and a set of goals: The committee wanted a playground that would reflect the local community and environment, and be an area-wide destination for kids and parents. Simultaneous goals of handicap accessibility and health promotion were established. 

This vision was presented to seven vendors, and their proposals were reviewed in detail. The committee picked the three best designs, and these were circulated in the community for         comments, they were also presented at LG and Island City elementary schools for kid’s feedback. 

Based on student and community feedback, the proposal from Ross Recreation, a landscape structures company with local offices in Salem was selected as best meeting the committee’s desired theme and goals.


The new playground will be roughly divided into 3 areas:

Toddlers (6-24 months, swings, crawling tunnels)

Youngsters (2-5 years; small tree tower, slides, toadstool hoppers, butterfly poles, adaptive merry-go-round)

Big Kids (12-foot tower with interior accessibility ramp, 2 slides. spiderweb access, large multi-axis web trampoline, monkey bar equivalents, mini climbing wall and more!)

Different areas of the playground will be connected by synthetic turf wheelchair-accessible pathways. The new playground will sit on the same footprint as the “old” playground. We will renovate the old swing set since it is in good shape.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST, AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR IT? Estimated cost for the new playground is $650,000. Luckily, State Parks and other grant streams will pay for 60%. We need to raise (in cash, labor and material donations) 40% of the estimated cost to qualify for the State Parks match. Before we even start our campaign, we have commitments for $65,000 – only $195,000 left to go! We will roll out our fundraising efforts concurrent with Celebrate La Grande’s event at the Park on September 7th, 2023.

WHEN WILL THE NEW PARK BE BUILT? To qualify for matching funds, we need to complete fundraising by May 2024. Once all our funding is lined up, we will host a demolition party at the existing playground in the spring of 2025. We will break ground on the new playground immediately after that, and the build will take two months. There will be opportunities for community members to contribute sweat equity while the build happens.

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