Riverfront Park deserves more attention

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

More than two years after it was discovered, the slide area on the south end of Riverfront Park is getting fixed.

Tuesday, the park was closed to visitors and will remain closed for 90 days while Central Asphalt repairs the slide area and resurfaces the park’s three play areas, one of which was threatened by the side. It’s been a long time coming, and one has to ask why it took so long before the city and the county, which jointly operate the park, acted. Yes, the Mississippi River played a part in the delay, going above flood stage twice and making it difficult for any contractor to work in the area, but a more pressing reason was money.

Both the city and the county had to find sources of money to fund the repairs once the proper remedy was determined, extending the delay. It would seem, given the popularity of the park, that both boards would have long ago developed some kind of fund to help meet the cost of repairs at the park.

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The slide was just the latest problem. The play area surfaces have needed repairs for several years. The artificial turf-like surfaces that covered the areas had grown worn and ragged with use over the years. Parking is a problem, especially on weekends and holidays like Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, when park use is at its peak. City officials have talked about changes, but planning has gotten no further than the wish list stage.

It’s a shame the area’s most popular and most used park has been treated like a stepchild for so long.

Riverfront Park has one of the most beautiful views of the Mississippi in the city. It brings people in close touch with the river, and during week days is a calm, quiet place where someone can have a quiet lunch, take a walk on the park’s walking trail or just sit and admire the river and the outdoors.

Riverfront Park is too great an asset to the city to receive attention only when there is an emergency or a problem. It needs more attention.

Hopefully the slide repair work and the resurfacing of the play areas will provide a catalyst for the city and county to take a closer look at the park and improve it.