Dysart et al staff have unveiled final plans for a new 9,000 sq. ft. playground in Head Lake Park, with the main features to be installed in the spring.

Andrea Mueller, the township’s manager of recreation programs and events, was joined by Brandon Nimigon and Nicole Baumgartner – members of the Head Lake Park playground fundraising committee – in presenting details of the project to council March 14.

The playground will be built on the site of the old play structure, which was dismantled last June. It will feature a jungle gym, log climbing structure, 100-foot zip line, and several standalone play features, such as seesaws, a merry-go-round, and rocker animals. There will also be an accessible area designed for people in wheelchairs. Mueller said benches and shaded shelters will also be installed.

The playground will be set on a concrete base, with engineered wood fibre covering, which Mueller noted was safer and more accessible than sand.

“The playground that we’ve been working on, the idea is to create a destination that is not just a draw for members of our community, but something that puts Haliburton village on the map,” Baumgartner said.

The total cost of the playground is slated at $600,000. Dysart has already committed $300,000, with $150,000 coming from an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. Haliburton Rotary has also committed $50,000. A community fundraising campaign, seeking the remaining $100,000, kicked off March 14. Local realtor, Andrew Hodgson, pledged $5,000 to the project at launch, with a GoFundMe having raised $2,050 as of press time.

The playground site has been designed and will be installed by Alberta-based Park N Play Design. Mueller said the main structures have already been paid for, and some of the secondary units will be installed as funds come in from the community. She said the main structures have a 25-year lifespan.

While he said he supported the playground project in general, mayor Murray Fearrey expressed concern over some features, notably the proposed zip line. He said Tuesday’s meeting was the first time council was hearing about that addition.

“There is maybe a liability with a zip line, we don’t want a liability. We want to make sure this is safe for kids. The fact that we didn’t know about it, I think, is a surprise to everybody on this council,” Fearrey said.

Mueller noted the zip line was a late addition, following recommendations from the fundraising committee. CAO Tamara Wilbee said it will be similar to the feature in place at Elvin Johnson Park in Algonquin Highlands, and what staff is proposing meets Canadian Safety Equipment standards.

Fearrey clarified his concern was more surrounding a lack of communication between staff and council.

“This is a decision that’s going to be made for the next 25 years. Council has to be able to justify this when we go out [into the community]. We certainly want to be informed. We need to be kept in the loop on these things,” he said.

To donate, visit gofund.me/1261a383. In-person donations are also being accepted at Dysart town hall, with tax receipts provided.