Sterling council OKs $457,000 in playground equipment for riverfront park

Two areas, for ages 2-5 and 6-12, also will be ADA-compliant

The Sterling City Council Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, approved paying two vendors nearly $457,000 for equipment to be installed in a multi-age, ADA-compliant playground at the burgeoning, yet-to-be-named riverfront park, part of the $300 million Riverfront Reimagined project. The playground will have two areas, one for ages 2 to 5 and the other for ages 6 to 12.

STERLING – If all goes as planned, by about this time next year, Sterling will have a playground that’s the envy of all playgrounds. All 12,000 square feet of it, and all with a river view.

The City Council on Monday approved paying two vendors almost $457,000 for scads of equipment for a multi-age, ADA-compliant playground at the burgeoning, yet-to-be-named riverfront park, along the Rock at the former Northwestern Steel and Wire Mill site.

A large splash pad, which will have a steel mill theme – like buckets that dump water, say – and maybe an ice-skating ribbon, are planned for a later phase.

A large treehouse will be the main feature of the riverfront playground, which will include all kinds of climbing, swinging and sliding features, including many that will be ADA-compliant

NuToys Leisure Products of Westchester will provide about $354,000 in equipment, and Kompan Inc. of Austin, Texas will provide about $103,000 worth.

According to the companies’ proposals, there will be treehouses to clamber up into, one big, one little, rocks of all sizes, and nets and ladders to climb, bridges to traverse, tunnels to burrow through, and slides to glide down.

Among other features, the merry-go-round, swings and teeter-totter, along with the playground’s surface, will accommodate wheelchair-users.

There’s also a fire pole and a ball maze, and the more mysterious SpyroSlide, Double Bobble Rider and Wobble Pod.

Oh, to be young again.

The equipment, much of it made from recycled materials, comes “in a natural look to complement the reclamation of the riverfront from an industrial area to a naturalized area,” with teal, yellow, red and purple accents possible, NuToys said in its proposal.

The playground is designed for ages 2 to 5 and 6 to 12, and each group will have its own play space.

Playground plans have been in the works for some time, and the money, which doesn’t include engineering or the costs to ready the site for installation, is coming from the city’s 2023-24 capital fund.

The Riverfront Commission met with 12 focus groups to get community input on the playground’s features, said organizer Kris Noble, also director of the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. “We got a great response.”

The equipment bids are being accepted now, a year ahead of construction, to lock in prices. Barring any supply chain issues or bad weather, the work should be done by next fall at the latest, Noble said.

It’s all part of the master plan for the Lawrence Bros. and National sites, a component of the $300-million-plus Riverfront Reimagined Project.

The work going on now involves readying the site through infrastructure projects, such as realigning Wallace Street – the east entrance to the park – and creating a roundabout at the west end, at Avenue B, as well as installing the electrical and internet equipment, Noble said.

The playground and an amphitheater are part of the next phase, with the splash pad adjacent to the playground, to the west, and, if the city can find sponsors, the ice ribbon after that.

In addition to the park and amphitheater, the riverfront redevelopment plan calls for worker apartments, a hotel and events center, and a rooftop bar/restaurant for the four buildings at the Lawrence site, which will be developed first.

That will be followed by market-rate apartments, a fitness center and yet-to-be-determined other potential uses of the National site, which for now has 11 buildings.

Go to to read the full plan.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.