Thorgren: Excited for Their New Adventure

By: Rob Thorgren Last Updated: September 2, 2014

ValPLAYso-Rob-ThorgrenRob Thorgren Co-Chair, ValPLAYso -The Next Generation

As the community-build days for ValPlayso — The Next Generation draw closer, I can't help but be excited about this adventure we have embarked on. The park is finally taking shape after months of designing, planning, negotiating, and ordering. We are finally at a stage where nervousness and excitement kick in and push us to build the coolest park imaginable. What started with Valparaiso community children designing their dream has finally come down to determin- ing how many tons of aggregate will be needed for the parking lot.

Between Oct. 6 and 12, ValPlayso — The Next Generation will be built, and we need the citizens of Valparaiso to be a part of that. I would like to summarize the timeline and next steps of the build in an effort to, not only build momentum, but educate everyone on the inner workings of the park build.

If you have driven past the park in the last week or so you will notice some big changes. With the help of companies like The Grounds Specialists, Steindler Signs and Luke Oil, volunteers and park employees removed the old playground, restrooms and pavilion. At the same time, volunteers have been busy checking material lists, organizing food donors, locating team captains, asking folks to borrow tools, and trying to build the largest volunteer base that our city has ever seen.

In the coming days we will begin clearing some trees from the site of the new playground and parking lot. These trees will be replaced. Then, we hope to begin excavation work.
In September we hope to complete the entrances, a parking lot with over 120 spaces, new restroom facility complete with a family restroom, and picnic shelter to be used while building the playground in early October. Starting 8 a.m. Oct. 6 the playground construction will begin. Construction will last until Oct. 12. We estimate needing around 2,500 volunteers to complete the build of the playground.

Considering there were nearly 2,600 volunteers 20 years ago for the original ValPlayso, we should have no problem reaching our goal. A typical day on the construction site will consist of skilled (capable of operating a table saw) and unskilled people working side by side from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Generous local companies have donated breakfast, lunch and dinner for all those who volunteer at the site. Team captains have been established to help guide volunteers and ensure a safe environment. There will be something for everyone, as volunteers are needed to perform tasks as easy as serving food and as complex as running a skid loader.

Following the build of the playground the park will remain closed for one week as a rubber surface will be poured in place. This rubber surface will create a wonderful solid surface across the entire playground. The only drawback to this surface is its one-week cure time. Following the cure of the rubber surface the playground will finally open to its long awaited fans.

In the next few weeks the Valpo Parks Department encourages you to visit and sign up to volunteer. This promises to be a very rewarding experience that you will remember forever.

To learn more or to volunteer visit