Published in the Iola Register on Jun. 21, 2013.

Designer unveils plan for community playground

By Lindsay Metcalf
 Ask kids what they want in their playground, and a font of ideas starts spewing.
 “An alien ship that you can play in,” said Noah Redmond, age 7.
‘”A lightning bolt slide, said, McKenzie Widen, 9.
Or maybe a lightning house with a robot said one boy. Or a climbing volcano? Or rockets or jet packs . . . or a bench for parents?
“That’s a good idea, so then you can stay at the playground longer, “ said Dennis Wille, a playground designer for Play By Design, who interviewed at least 127 area children Thursday as part of the Concordia Community Park Project’s Design Day.
After conducting child focus groups at both the Concordia Elementary School and the City Park, Wille left armed with a notebook full of ideas. He spent the afternoon camped in the Concordia High School conference room sketching a preliminary design for a $150,000 destination playground at the City Park.
“It’s more than a playground,” Wille said, “It really is the dreams of the children. And it really is something that celebrates the next generation.”
Thursday evening, about 70 people gathered in the Concordia High School auditorium for the playground design reveal.
The playground will be installed north of the Culley Field baseball diamond, and the many features will include a tree house, pirate ship, twisty slide, musical instruments and a separate preschool area with a biplane and train.
‘Wille’s preliminary schematic goes back to the committees for review. A final design is expected within a couple of weeks.
Wille asked the children how long they thought it would take to construct such a park.
“Maybe...20 minutes, said Michael Goffinet, 6.
Close: Five days, in April 2014.
Organizers of the grassroots effort say the barn-raising event next spring will require about 80 volunteers each day.
Those interested in helping should contact Missy LeDuc, co-chairwoman of the volunteer committee at 785-275-2049 or
The project has raised $18,500 to date, but with Design Day complete the fundraising begins in earnest.
Part of the campaign will include “selling” each component of the playground, allowing donors to label a slide or tree house or even individual fence pickets.
To contribute, contact Krystal Breese at 785-243-8853 or at
Other ways to get involved in the project include:
— Lend tools: Contact Mike Wentz at 785-243-1801 or at
— Feed the volunteers: Contact Karla McMillan at 784-439-6454 or at
— Help with child care: Contact Jennifer Sieber at 785-243-1435, ext. 265 or at
— Become a construction crew supervisor or donate building materials: Contact Janet Lowell at 785-342-7157 or at
Those interested in the project can stay informed by following CommunityParkProject.