Cass County Democrat Missourian

Hawk Ridge Park to be destination entertainment spot, with playground, amphitheater

In mid-September, construction workers finished the cement after a pour for a new bridge at Hawk Ridge Park Lake. The bridge is part of a larger project underway at the popular Raymore park. Most of the project is expected to be completed in spring 2019.
In mid-September, construction workers finished the cement after a pour for a new bridge at Hawk Ridge Park Lake. The bridge is part of a larger project underway at the popular Raymore park. Most of the project is expected to be completed in spring 2019. Special to The Democrat

Construction recently started to transform one of Raymore’s beloved parks into an even more important recreation and entertainment destination. When spring 2019 arrives, Hawk Ridge Park is expected to become one of Raymore’s favorite places for play.

Focused on inclusive, interactive fun for visitors of all interests and abilities, plans for new amenities and improvements at Hawk Ridge are extensive. Design highlights include the Hawk’s Nest, a state-of-the-art inclusive playground; an amphitheater; and a looped trail around the lake. Other new features will include an ADA-compliant fishing dock, boardwalk and restroom, along with a picnic shelter and two parking lots.

“I’ve seen this community grow from a small town to a thriving community,” said Nathan Musteen, City of Raymore Parks & Recreation director. “This park will be a destination park not only for our community but visitors, too.”

In addition to the park’s current popular programs and activities — such as soccer, archery, the annual fishing derby and mini mud run — key new cultural attractions will include the amphitheater and visual arts installations.

“I’m a big believer in the idea of creating places where the community can gather for music, art and cultural activities,” said Mike Ekey, City of Raymore communications director. “The amphitheater is going to do just that. It will be a space where we can host big touring performances or smaller community events.”

Visual arts additions will include the installation of three sculptures throughout the park grounds. The largest will be installed near the amphitheater and will be similar in size to artist Chet Redmon’s piece, “The Seed,” located at the corner of 58 Highway and Dean. The second will be a kinetic or interactive sculpture near the new shelter, and the third will be a musical feature in the inclusive playground.

“The inclusive playground will be a jewel in the crown of the park,” Musteen said. “We didn’t want to just do a small playground. We wanted to go big and kick it out of the park.”

According to Musteen, Hawk’s Nest will be the first all-inclusive playground in Cass County. The playground will feature interactive equipment for those with visual, hearing, cognitive, sensory, physical or other disabilities.

“In the design, we made a conscious effort to make every single amenity available for anyone of any ability, he said. “Whatever the challenge, everyone can come out and enjoy this space together at the same time.”

Though the design and a goal for opening the playground are in place, the funds are not.

Unlike the other Hawk Ridge Park improvements, which are being financed by a general obligation bond and city capital improvement funds, Hawk’s Nest will be community funded. The price tag for the playground is $850,000 and plans are to raise the money through community contributions, both from businesses and individuals. The current goal is to raise the funds for a summer 2020 opening.

To bring the playground vision to fruition, Musteen and his team have partnered with Unlimited Play, a company that specializes in designing and building all-inclusive recreation. Unlimited Play is also assisting the city in their playground fund-raising initiative, which was launched in mid-September. The initial construction process has started, with surface grading completed by the City of Raymore.

“We’re entertaining in-kind services, such as construction or landscaping, and we’re scheduling community-build days. We’ll also have an honorary donor wall,” Musteen said. “This is Raymore’s playground and we’re doing it for everybody.”

Visit Hawk’s Nest Playground for more information or to make a contribution.

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