Apr 7, 2022 - Things to Do

Urbandale wants kids to get muddy and creative at new "natural" park

natural playscape in Urbandale
The "natural playscape" in Urbandale. Photo courtesy of Jan Herke

Urbandale is building a "natural playscape" park, which resembles more of the twists and turns of a forest rather than a traditional playground.

Why it matters: The "natural" park encourages kids to be creative and to think on their feet more than they do with the slides and swings they already know, said Jan Herke, director of Urbandale's Parks and Rec.

  • Kids may lift logs and build forts with each other. Or they can walk down to the nearby creek and play with the water.
  • "This park will change literally every time the child's there," Herke said.

State of play: Barrett Boesen Park is under its first phase of construction, which is set to open this summer on a 7-acre plot of land off 156th and Waterford streets.

  • It will include a large wooden climbing structure, sensory tables, loose play areas for sticks and stones and steps to go down to the creek.

Details: The first phase, which lays down the concrete and needed infrastructure like parking and bathrooms, costs $570,000.

  • But if the park continues to raise money, Herke said the master plan envisions adding more unique and expansive features, like an obstacle course, rock climbing cave and a bridge to cross the creek.
  • She estimates the total cost would be $1.2 million.

The bottom line: By playing and learning in a more natural environment, Herke hopes children will take their experiences and grow up to care about how they treat the outdoors.

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