Central Park: Will railroad history be tied in?

Tracy’s Parks Committee met last week to discuss possibilities for new playground equipment, along with other potential plans for a number of areas of Central Park. Photo / Peterson

By Per Peterson

A steam engine in Central Park?

It could happen.

OK, not a real steam engine like those that churned through Tracy so many decades ago, or even the one featured at Wheels Across the Prairie Museum. This engine would not only serve as a nod to Tracy’s history, but it would also be a portal to fun in the park.

“There’s a good connection there,” Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said at last week’s Tracy Parks Committee meeting. “The park land was originally donated by the railroad, so it’s got that connection from the very, very beginning. From a branding standpoint and historical continuity standpoint, it does make some sense.”

Hansen was referring to the possibility of implementing a train theme for the park’s new playground. The committee last Wednesday poured over a number of different options for new playground equipment that will be part of the renovation at Central Park — Tracy’s largest and most-used public space. A good portion of last week’s discussion with the engineering firm ISG involved replacing and updating the current playground equipment, a project the City has been working on for a couple of years.

Prior to the new Parks Committee being formed, the City had attempted to secure a Minnesota DNR grant to help pay for new playground equipment, but were denied a grant. However, that hasn’t stopped City leaders from pursuing new equipment, and last week the committee got a look at a variety of avenues it could take to do just that.

The City is working with ISG on a master plan for a new-look Central Park and are entering the design phase, which includes a new vision for playground equipment.

“When we start to plan a playground, we often like to choose a theme,” said ISG Landscape Architect Mo Convery. “This helps to create an opportunity to tell a story of a place, or a park, or a community, or add on an educational element for kids who are using it.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.