Skykomish River Park’s new playground is open, and just in time for summer.

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas led the official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. Many of the dozens of kids joining him from the Monroe Boys and Girls Clubs already had time to give the updated equipment a whirl.

“We are very proud to open this right now,” said Monroe Parks Board member Tami Kinney.

She said Sitelines Park & Playground Products Inc. finished the work slightly ahead of schedule. Owned by Alabama-based GameTime, the company manufactures commercial playground materials for cities and schools. The playground’s groundbreaking was in April.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department, parks board, the Monroe City Council and local organizations all had a hand in the design. Open houses and public meetings were held to make sure the final product incorporated input from the community, and the families who would frequent the facility.

“So, this was a wonderful, wonderful project,” Kinney said. “We all sort of looked at the plans and tried to come up with something everybody would like.”

City councilmembers Jim Kamp, Kevin Hanford and Jeff Rasmussen, who is also the Boys and Girls Clubs director, came out for Thursday’s grand opening, as did Monroe School Board president Darcy Cheesman.

“I know you guys are going to spend a lot of time here during the summer, so we look forward to having you here and enjoying the park,” Rasmussen said.

Hanford posed a challenge to the younger members of the crowd. He asked anyone from the group to raise their hand if they had climbed to the top of the spider net — if not, that was their task.

Rasmussen was among those who confirmed they had. Kamp wondered if some of the equipment would fit in his living room, to which he received cheers in support.

The new equipment is ADA-accessible and expected to appeal to a spectrum of age groups, just like the Lake Tye Park playground replacement that took place a year ago.

Both playgrounds were decades old and nearing the end of their lives when city staff decided it was time for an overhaul. Many of the replacement parts were no longer being manufactured. The equipment was also outdated in terms of inclusivity and what kinds of activities are popular and available in the modern industry.

The Lake Tye facility was highly desired for its increased accessibility. It includes a ShadowPlay TriRunner, an inclusive feature similar to a spinning swing that can fit multiple riders at one time. It was the first of its kind to be installed in Washington.

Monroe participates in a program that makes purchasing equipment more affordable. Discounts for both playgrounds were around 24 percent of the listed price through the U.S. Communities national purchasing cooperative, which helps agencies purchase services and materials through a competitive bidding process.

Sky River Park is 32 acres, includes a one-mile running loop, and is bordered by a dog park and ballfields. The Sky Valley Food Bank, Julia V. Morris Community Garden and the Monroe Community Senior Center are within walking distance.

The area has seen many improvements in the past year, and is scheduled to see even more.

A new stretching post, pull-up and chin-up bar, parallel bars with a balance disc and a triceps stations were put up along the park’s trails last year. Rasmussen headed a collaboration with the city and Snohomish County Councilmember Sam Low to secure the Snohomish County Small Capital Projects Partnership grant that paid for the new equipment, installed a short distance from the playground.

In February, the city council approved two new parks master plans, including one for the neighboring Cadman Inc. property. 

Thomas said it was important to thank everyone who helped with the hard work. The Redmond-based company will transfer about 140 acres back to the city sometime in the next few years, at which point it will be developed for recreation.

Costs for the playground replacement were covered entirely by revenue from new developments in Monroe — real estate excise taxes and mitigation fees were the sole source of the funds. In years past, when new growth was slow, the city has had to put off similar projects, he said previously.

“First, nothing happens for free, and a lot of the new homes that are coming here to town are the reason why we have this new playground equipment,” he said. “So, as houses are bought and sold, and property is transferred, that allows us to then bring in money that allows us to build projects like this.”

The Monroe City Council approved nearly $343,600 in equipment purchases for the Sky River project. Plans for its replacement were included in the park’s six-year master plan, and $350,000 was budgeted for use this year.

“It is just a wonderful park, and you are just wonderful kids, and we hope you enjoy it,” Kinney said.