St. Paul parents concerned about safety, cost of new playground

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A nearly $350,000 renovation to a St. Paul park is drawing criticism from parents and other neighborhood groups who say it’s not only unsafe, but not worth the money.

The park was recently renovated and already crews have had to come out and fix the slide and the ropes. At least two parents told FOX 9 their young children have become stuck in the skytower structure and they’re afraid something worse might happen soon.

6-year-old Lily checked out the slide in the tot section of Cherokee Regional Park in St. Paul Tuesday.

Like any carefree child, she loves playing at the park, even though Lily was initially afraid of this 24-foot climbing structure called the skytower.  

Parents of little ones are not big fans of the new design of Cherokee Regional Playground.

“The slide was pulling away from the top of the structure,” said Brian Jastram, of St. Paul. “Some of the climbing cargo net things, some of the strings were coming off.”

Jastram lives nearby and often takes his 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son to the park. Now, he’s concerned about the safety of the climbing equipment, especially when his curious 3-year-old tries to get to the top.

“I’ve kept a cautious eye out while he’s climbing,” Jastram said.

Several parents say they’ve become stuck trying to rescue their children from the skytower structure and worry about how stable it is after seeing it shake with too many children playing on it.

A spokeswoman for the city’s park and recreation department says the city held several meetings to ask for neighborhood input on how to renovate the old playground. They kept hearing from residents that they wanted, “modern, challenging, something different,” and delivered on that.

The project cost $340,000 paid out to a contractor out of Roseville.

A few miles away, Indian Mounds Regional Park cost nearly $500,000.

Parents are wondering where all the money is going.

“I was also surprised at how little was put in,” said Anna Carlson. “It was closed for a while. I thought we’d get a little more out of it.”