GREAT FALLS – If you’ve been to Gibson Park lately, you may have noticed some changes.
Now there’s an empty dirt lot surrounded by a fence where the “tots” playground used to be.
Currently, that playground is in the process of getting a much-needed makeover.
City of Great Falls Park Manager Lonnie Dalke said the 20-year-old structure has reached the end of its lifespan: “It’s just getting to be an aged structure that we’re want to replace and update so it’s more ADA compliant.”
However, it’s a bittersweet process for people like Lauren LaRonde.
She grew up in this playground and is sad to see some of those childhood memories fade. She played on this equipment when she was a child and her little brother learned how to swing on the ones already taken down.
“We had a lot of family memories down here at this park and things like that, so it’s kind of sad that it’s gone, but hopefully the new one that’s coming in will be good for future generations of kids,” said LaRonde.
The city was able to get funding for this project through a Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG.
The CDBG is an annual federal grant that helps cities and counties develop urban communities. It can also be used toward housing.
This grant will help to replace the entire playground, not just the kiddie section.
“The new side that we’re doing right now will probably be a couple of weeks before we get that done, then there’ll be a couple more weeks before we get this tot side done. So we’re probably looking at a good month,” said Dalke.
As for the old equipment, it will be carried off to a dump site.
The next project to be completed using the grant will be installing a playground in Kranz Park.
Reporting by Kaley Collins for MTN News