Group wants to rebuild Triangle Park

Okotoks: Revamp planned for 2017

By: By Jessica Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 02:53 pm

From the left, Angel Butler, Beth Rider, Maya Wessely, Franziska Wessely with Sam and Leah Sampson stand on the Triangle Park play structure along North Railway Street in Okotoks. The group hopes to see the park revitalized to become a community gathering space.
From the left, Angel Butler, Beth Rider, Maya Wessely, Franziska Wessely with Sam and Leah Sampson stand on the Triangle Park play structure along North Railway Street in Okotoks. The group hopes to see the park revitalized to become a community gathering space.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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A small group of Okotoks parents is hoping to get the community behind its effort to rebuild a dilapidated playground in the downtown area rebuilt.

Angel Butler has more than a simple tie to the Triangle Park on North Railway Street. She takes her daughter Jaidy to the park to play, just as she did when she was young. The earliest memories the Okotoks mother has of the park is of moms, sun, the smell of suntan lotion, picnics, the wading pool and fun.

“I grew up two blocks down from the park and my granny’s house was right on the corner, so this park was part of my childhood,” she said. “It was our world. I remember a summer in the sun when we’d go down there any play.”

Over the years the park has had a wading pool, which was covered over; a tire swing, which was taken down; and a play structure Butler feels has become neglected.

Butler and other concerned parents took their case to council last week, asking for support of their efforts to apply for grants to rebuild Triangle Park. They also asked the Town to reinstate a playground zone on North Railway signage over concerns that motorists zoom through that area without slowing down.

“We’ve got to give it that life again,” said Leah Sager-Sampson, who also grew up in Okotoks and remembers playing at what is now Triangle Park. “It’s more than just a park, it’s history. This was the only park in town.”

They want to build a park for all generations to enjoy. Ideas for the design includes a reading corner, a chess board, a mix of age-appropriate structures for kids and parents.

They don’t want to see a traditional, cookie-cutter playground for children in Triangle Park, they want something more original.

Perhaps something with an Olde Towne flavour, made with sustainable materials and incorporating different textures for children with sensory issues like wood, rock and sand.

“Maybe something like the Town’s logo, with little buildings as playhouses, with a railway track, because the train is such a big part of Okotoks,” said Butler.

Franziska Wessely and her family moved to McRae Street in September, from Germany, She took over the operation of the Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop, and loved her new home’s location.

Triangle Park was an extension of her backyard for her children.

“The preschool and the dayhome, when they use the space for nature walks, they have to bring their own toys,” Wessely said. “The park is boring, neglected, and there are slivers everywhere.”

Bethan Rider, mother to two small children who attend BrightPath Daycare Centre just south of Triangle Park, was also concerned for the welfare of Triangle Park as it is where her children go on nature walks while in care.

“Trips to the park are a staple of daily activities,” she said. “The existing small play structure is in excess of 25-years-old and in poor repair, the daycare employees do not allow children to play on it for fear of constant slivers and injuries.”

She’s also concerned with the speed and volume of traffic that pass by park, noting it’s adjacent to a busy thoroughfare to the downtown.

“As a parent, I consider the fence that surrounds the park to be inadequate, in addition to it opening directly out onto North Railway Street,” she said. “Unlike other playgrounds in Okotoks, the road is not a designated playground zone... motorists have no indication that extra caution should be taken in the area.”

The group is applying to Cargill Community Cares Fund for a grant, as well as a couple of other sources, to help rebuild the park.

The group received a letter of support from town council and a revamp for the park is on the Town’s priority list, said municipal manager Rick Quail, it just might take a while.

“The thinking behind the next phase of the utility water and sewer replacement is essentially from the Olde Towne Plaza east along North Railway Street to the intersection of Lineham,” he said. “That work is scheduled to commence in 2017 and our thinking was to look at the redevelopment of Triangle Park with that reconstruction program.”

When the Town replaced the utility and wastewater lines beneath McRae Street, they also refurbished the aesthetic of the Plaza at the same time. Quail said it was a comprehensive program, and that’s how the Town would like to approach Triangle Park.

“We need to get a consultation program going around what the need and design for Triangle Park should be,” said Quail. “We’ve always contemplated including the adjacent lane system into other designs and we’re also thinking the playground isn’t an appropriate use because of the small size and it’s proximity to a downtown street.”


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