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The "destination playground" planned for Stodden Park in Butte will cost $1 million and could be in place by the end of November if commissioners OK a contract for it this week.

The projected $999,989 tab is no surprise, since county officials and project designers said last October that it would be at least $900,000. But taxpayers are not footing the bill.

The elaborate playground is being funded as part of $5.5 million in donations the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources made to Butte-Silver Bow for major upgrades and improvements at Stodden. Much of the work will be done this year.

Parks Director J.P. Gallagher said he thinks it will be the largest public playground in Montana, though he isn’t 100 percent certain of that.

Regardless, he said Monday, it will “definitely” live up to its bill as a playground so cool it will — by itself — draw folks to Stodden from inside and outside of Butte when it’s complete.

If commissioners sign off on a proposed contract Wednesday night, NorthWest Playground Equipment Inc. of Issaquah, Washington, will provide nearly $702,000 in equipment, features, and surfacing and provide $298,000 in labor.

The playground will have three headframes 20 feet tall with fall-proof platforms and slides and other climbing features. A miniature “Big M” will be 12 feet high, and a 14-foot-high mining truck will have room for 110 kids in the back and three twisting slides coming off the sides.

There will be play features scattered about, including a "PentaWeb" that resembles a giant spider web and a "Branch Out," a hub of nets, ropes, and flex treads that encourages vertical climbing.

A major selling point was that all big play features are surrounded and connected by rubberized surfaces that are easy to navigate in wheelchairs or walkers.

There will also be two "stations" next to the playground that have all sorts of equipment that teens and adults can exercise with, be they beginners or intermediate or advanced users.

The Washington Foundation initially gave the county a $2.5 million donation in September 2016 for improvements to Stodden, including a midway area, new tennis courts, and a playground that would cost about $300,000.

When the foundation added $3 million last year, county officials decided to spend three times as much on the playground alone. Foundation officials signed off on the plans.

"They decided, if we were going to promote this as a 'destination playground,' let's make it a destination playground," Gallagher said last October, when updated plans were made public.

Under the proposed contract, NorthWest Playground will have until Nov. 30 to complete the project, though that can be revised if weather conditions warrant.


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