New downtown playground is truly a gem

FUN AND PLAY SHOULD have no barriers or limits. Thanks to an amazing public private joint effort, that will now be true in downtown Plymouth.

Members of the Plymouth Lions Club joined with city officials Saturday to officially cut the ribbon on the new ‘all-abilities playground’ in Stayer Park along the Mullet River south of Mill Street and east of Stafford Street.

While it was the official dedication, the fun began a long time ago on the colorful playground, which opened last fall and has been hosting children of all ages and abilities – and their families – ever since, even in the coldest and snowiest of weather.

The dedication ceremony took place on the new pavilion/ shelter building just to the east of the playground. That building, along with the playground, is the centerpiece of the vastly upgraded riverfront area downtown.

The area along the Mullet River downtown had long been the topic of discussions aimed at upgrading and beautifying the public space, but for too long to no avail.

As Mayor Donald Pohlman commented Saturday, “Every time we came up with the numbers, we kept getting short, and not just a few dollars.”

The latest consideration came a few years ago when the city commissioned a study of the entire Mullet River corridor through the city, including downtown and much more.

City Administrator Brian Yerges admitted Saturday that the Stayer Park area plans were probably again on the back burner, due to the tremendous cost and effort needed to bring the ambitious plans to fruition.

That’s when so many in the private sector stepped up to move things forward.

The Stayer Foundation offered a generous $300,000 matching grant to upgrade the park that bears their family name. The Lions Club then took charge of raising the matching funds to complete the effort.

They got support from donors large and small, businesses and individuals. All of it – down to every grilled cheese sandwich bought and enjoyed at the County Fair – brought the dream to life.

The Lions worked with the city to design a playground area that is truly unique to Plymouth, from the dairy barn and cheese facts games to the replica of the Huson Water Tower for kids to climb.

The city moved ahead with upgrading the rest of the area, including the pavilion, reconfigured parking with landscaping, burying utility lines underground, a new public restroom and more.

There are still a few items left to be completed – including landscaping around the pavilion, fencing in the new dog park and completing the barrier around the parking ramp – but those should be done shortly.

When they are, the area along the Mullet River from Eastern Avenue to Stafford Street will truly be what Pohlman called “a jewel in our downtown.”

It is all the result of a remarkable and unmatched collaboration between the public and private sector.

It’s something all involved in, and all who contributed, can take great pride in.

And nothing will bring greater smiles and pride than seeing children who could never enjoy playgrounds before smiling and laughing as they enjoy this playground.

As special guest 2017 Miss Wisconsin Wheelchair and Plymouth resident Myranda Gereau said, “Everyone’s going to be able to come to this park and do whatever they can and be just like everyone else.”

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