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French Regional Park

Plymouth, MN USA


Playground Overview

After nearly 30 years, it was time for this park to replace a much-loved playstructure. The goal: To maintain the integrity of the original all-wood-and cargo-net design, then raise it to new heights. Literally. A 28-foot tower greets park-goers and offers kids a choose-your-own-path climb into the treetops. An eye-catching mix of real wood and recycled wood-grain lumber along with a generous supply of belting and nets echoes the park’s history while upping the play value for a whole new generation—and now welcomes kids and parents of all abilities.

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Playground Details

  • Age Ranges

    • 5 to 12 years
  • Design Standards

  • ASTM
  • Installed

  • September 2018
  • Project Price Range
  • Pricing for custom playground equipment varies. For international and exact pricing, please contact your local playground consultant.

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Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

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Flagship Recreation
275 4th St E Ste 810
Saint Paul, MN 55101
Phone 763-550-7860

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A Blending of the Old and the New

Transparency Wins the Community's Approval

Positioned along the north shore of Medicine Lake, French Regional Park offers a variety of opportunities for outdoor exploration. In addition to a swimming beach, fishing pier and lighted trails, there is a unique play area that has been a destination for generations.

In 2016, it was decided that the existing play area—which was approaching 30-years-old—needed to be replaced. The goal of the new play area was to create a signature play area that retained some of the features of the old playstructure.

“The existing play area was beloved by many community members,” explained Jill Caffee, park operations supervisor at Three Rivers Park District. “So, while we wanted to build something fresh and new, we knew that community input and public engagement was imperative to the project’s success.”

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

Transparent Engagement

Before the project even started, word got out that the existing playground was being torn down and the community was deeply concerned. That's part of what drove the project committee’s first conversation around getting the community involved.

Through mysidewalk surveys, robust social media efforts, an FAQ board and regular communication, the public’s feedback to the playground renovation completely turned around. “They had complete confidence in what we were doing,” said Caffee.

"We were committed to building to what we heard."

The community feedback was straight forward. Incorporating playground nets like those in the existing design was important. As was height, towers, slides and water misters.

“The project committee came together and set goals for the project, with a primary commitment to transparent communication and public engagement,” said Caffee. “We recognized the significance of building this playground for current and future generations.”

Engaging the Community in Design

To ensure that they met the wishes of the kids that would use the equipment, the project committee reached out to Park Brook Elementary School in Brooklyn Park. They partnered with a third-grade class—the Kid Task Force—to help create the final playground design.

The project committee engaged the Kid Task Force—22 third through fifth graders—in various workshops over two years. At an early workshop, staff rolled out a big piece of paper, and students drew what they wanted in the playground. Ultimately, they were integral in choosing the color scheme, some of the slides and swings, and had a lot of opinions on the playground safety surfacing.

“This project was a great opportunity for career mentoring both students and Three Rivers staff.” Jill Caffee, park operations supervisor, Three Rivers Park District

“One design aspect that was very important to the project committee was accessibility,” said Caffee. “The team considered play components and accessibility for both physical and sensory needs. We wanted to allow kids of varying abilities to be embedded in the play area and not on the sidelines.”

That’s why in addition to the students, the project committee engaged people who use mobility devices. This group, including two Three Rivers staff, provided a unique perspective on how to make the play space accessible to a variety of abilities. One big win in this endeavor is that the second level of the playground provides access throughout the structure to individuals using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. In addition, sensory features were added including soft chimes, a sand and water feature, and interactive panels along the second level decking.


Visitors are in Awe

The new playground at French Regional Park opened in August 2018, and community members love it.

“They are so appreciative that we were able to blend the old into the new,” said Caffee. “We all feel we achieved the goal of designing to the public's expectations.”

"I tell parents that they must go into the towers because there is so much more than what you can see from the surrounding area.”Jill Caffee, park operations supervisor

According to park staff, many visitors are saying they’ve been to the park every day since it opened. They love the playground climbing nets, the tallest towers, the challenge of the design and the multiple opportunities for accessing so many features.

“The third graders, who are now sixth graders, that were involved in the project are coming out on weekends with their families,” said Caffee. “They are incredibly proud of the finished product and are excited to show friends and family the design aspects they helped develop. We’re excited to welcome all of the students from Park Brook Elementary for a field trip soon.”

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