DES MOINES, IOWA — Union Park was filled with police officers on Thursday morning – armed with hammers and drills, giving their time to build a new community playground.
The project was the work of the city’s Rebuilding Together Des Moines program that partners corporate donors with major renovation projects in the city. Through donations from Meredith Corporation and the Meredith Foundation, Rebuilding Together Des Moines was able to organize the purchase of much-needed new playground equipment at the park.
The city ran into a hurdle when it came to find laborers to do the actual construction. The pandemic has left the workforce short, so Des Moines City Councilmember Linda Westergaard says that Des Moines Police officers stepped up to fill in the void. More than dozen officers gave up a day off to volunteer their time on the build, she said.
Westergaaard says this is about more than just a playground. The neighborhoods surrounding Union Park are lower income and the park is an extremely important part of the community. “A lot of these kids don’t get to go on vacation, they don’t get to go to Adventureland. This is their playtime,” says Westergaard, “This is a very popular park and it is well used and very busy. And its beautiful.”
Westergaard also says thanks is due to city staffers who work to ensure Des Moines residents have unique experiences whenever they visit a park. “I love that all of the playground is different. I can take my grandchildren, it doesn’t matter which park we go to, its all different. That’s thanks to our park planners who do that and can design some really, really cool playgrounds.”
The new playground equipment replaces older, damaged equipment that was on the North side of the park. The Historic Rocket Slide is still standing, though it is under repair right now.