Austin Smith Inclusive Playground nears completion

Early last week, crews sorted and began assembling the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground near the Aquatic Center. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Within a few days, by Friday morning, the installation was complete. A temporary fence was erected to keep people out of the playground until the rubberized flooring can be poured.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The anticipation is certainly in the air…

   Last week, a crew out of Wisconsin, hired by Bolland Recreation, arrived in Monticello to assemble the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground.

   “The plan is to officially open at the end of the month if all goes as planned,” shared Mikinzie Smith. “We blocked off a week (for installation) to account for the weather.”

   Now that the playground equipment is up and in place, the only thing remaining is the rubberized flooring to prevent falls, scrapes, and bruises. That application will take roughly a week, followed by several days of curing.

   After the sign is installed at the entrance of the playground, kids of all ages and abilities can officially enjoy this beautiful playground!

   “In the spring, we plan to add some benches and hopefully some landscaping,” offered Smith.

   The finished product encompasses roughly 11,000 square feet, with a total budget of close to $460,000. The previous estimate of $430,000, Smith said, increased a bit due to additional installation expenses.

   “I’m comfortable getting to $500,000 for future upkeep, maintenance, and incidentals,” said Smith.

   Rather than ask community volunteers to assist in a portion of the installation, the Foundation and the Smiths felt it was best to have professionals tackle the job.

   “After a lot of discussion and all of the details,” said Smith, “having professionals install everything is worth it with the potential liability should something be assembled incorrectly. This is such a complex design. We want everything to be just right.”

   As the crews began piecing everything together, kids would gather along the fence line to marvel at the size of the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground. Everyone is excited to try it out!

   Some of the unique pieces of equipment include several interactive playhouses, one even complete with a doggie door.

   “These are for interactive and imaginative play,” explained Smith. “These bring an all-new level to playground interaction.”

   There are also swings for an older sibling to enjoy right alongside a younger sibling. Or, swings for children of different abilities.

   “There is plenty here to entice all ages and abilities,” praised Smith.

   The two-lane zipline offers children the ability to race, with one side complete with a handicapped accessible seat and the other a standard seat.

   There are also outdoor musical instruments to play, and interactive panels up and down the towers to the slide.

   The Austin Strong Foundation has been busy this summer with fundraising for the playground and the Seventh Annual Ride & Drive Like a Superhero with Sally’s on Broadway in Springville.

   In addition, there were children all over the county and beyond who raised money as Junior Superheroes for the playground.

   “We could not be more pleased with how fundraising has kicked in at the end,” marveled Smith.

   With that in mind, you have until Friday, Aug. 12, to send in donations and pledges for the playground, in order to be recognized on the donor wall.

   All donations over $1,000 will be on the wall. Those donors and all Junior Superheroes who raised $250 or more will have the opportunity to take part in the ribbon cutting.

   The Final Reach campaign was announced in May, with a goal of raising the final $50,000. Three different tiers of donations were established: $250-plus for Avenger Sponsors, $150 for Crusader Sponsors, and $75 for Sidekick Sponsors.

   “This was a really successful campaign and got us to the finish line,” acknowledged Smith.

   Donations can be mailed to Austin Strong Foundation, P.O. Box 727, Monticello, IA 52310. Or you can donate online at

   As of late last week, a temporary fence has been erected around the playground near the Aquatic Center. The public is urged to stay away from the site out of respect for the equipment and your safety.


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