Schaper Park to have new challenge course and all-inclusive playground

An artist’s rendering of the all-inclusive playground facility planned for Schaper Park in Golden Valley. The plan is to begin demolition this September with a grand opening of the new playground next September. (Submitted image)

Earlier this month, the Golden Valley City Council approved the cooperative agreement with Three Rivers Park District for the construction of a challenge course and all-inclusive playground facility in Schaper Park.
The agreement is now pending city attorney review for improvements.
Parks and Recreation Director Rick Birno said the challenge course compares to that of an America Ninja Warrior course. It is the first outdoor challenge course in Minnesota.
The outdoor course will have a foundation of artificial turf, a 40-yard dash on either side and a scoreboard to time residents, Birno said.
The course is designed to accommodate residents of all ages, specifically from 5 to 85, according to Harlan Lehman, president of Minnesota/Wisconsin Playground.
“No matter what your ability, every single different body type can utilize this,” Lehman said.
The first outdoor challenge course was built in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it had six million users within the first 11 months, he noted, adding that the company, which will provide the equipment for the local course, is excited to implement it in Golden Valley.
Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris said the NFL had recognized that challenge course when the Charlotte Panthers played on it at Hornets Nest Park. He said Golden Valley’s own challenge course may entice the Super Bowl Committee.
A benefit of the course, Lehman said, is its timer because it will encourage residents to use the course and improve their time. He also said residents can use an app, created by GameTime, the manufacturer of the equipment, to track their time.
Users can also track their friends’ progress or track other users across the country.
This facility is the first all-inclusive structure in Golden Valley, Birno said, meaning that children of all abilities will be able to use it. It will also have sensory panels, ramps and artificial turf.
Harris said, in the past, it’s been a “pet peeve” of his to build facilities that are not fully accessible. He said, even if a facility meets ADA standards, a child in a wheelchair will likely have trouble getting through sand or rubber.
The total project has a budget of $480,000. A $35,000 grant from Paul’s Pals will support the structure. A $50,000 grant from MN/WI Playground will support the challenge course. The park district will largely fund the two facilitates with $325,000 for the project.
Birno said he and his team hope to begin demolition in late September. Construction will begin in August and, he said, he hopes to have a grand opening next September.