Designs for a highly-anticipated new playground at Savage Community Park were finalized this week.

The Savage City Council approved the designs Tuesday, nearly one year since a suspected arson fire leveled the old playground at the city’s busiest park.

The playground designed by Northland Recreation won the hearts of local residents during an open house event hosted by the city late last month.

“There’s so many cool details, every time I look at this design I see something different,” Greg Boatman, the city’s public works director, told the council on Tuesday.

The playground will be the first in Savage to have a poured-in-place rubber playground surface. Unlike wood chips or pebbles, the rubberized surface is typically accessible to children using wheelchairs or other mobility aides.

Northland Recreation also built Burnsville’s first inclusive playground, which opened recently at Red Oak Park.

The $350,000 playground planned for Community Park will mostly be covered by donations and revenues generated by the city’s municipal liquor operation.

The Burnsville Lions Club donated $100,000 to the project, which they raised through pull tabs. The organization regularly supports parks and recreation projects in the Savage and Burnsville communities.

Local residents also raised funds to the support the rebuild, according to Boatman. The Palazzola family in Savage, for example, raised $1,600 by selling bracelets.

The rest of the funding came together with a $5,000 donation from Cargill, a roughly $85,000 insurance payment and a $158,000 transfer from the city’s liquor fund.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Matt Johnson highlighted the role of the city’s liquor operation in funding local projects.

“Thanks to all the community members and others who’ve purchased at the liquor store because it makes a difference,” he said. “It allows us to do great things like this.”

Boatman said the new playground is expected to open in the spring of 2022, but the wait will pay off into the future.

“We’re building this playground for the next 25 to 30 years,” he said. “This is going to be an awesome playground. This fits that title of ‘destination playground’ for us in a lot of ways — everybody loves to come to Community Park and play.”

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