Architecture & Design, Construction, and Travel & Tourism

Iconic spot receives inclusive contributions

From elementary school students to area businesses, Grand Haven community supports revitalizing Imagination Station.

January 19, 2018
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Imagination Station
Designers Danielle Campbell, left, and Maegan Marcheggiani explain the structure’s final design. Courtesy Jessica Brock

The Grand Haven Imagination Station is getting a makeover later this year. 

The nearly 28-year-old, 20,000-square-foot wooden playground structure is getting a $500,000 rebuild this fall, and there are a lot of people and businesses contributing to its success. 

During the community meetings last year, it was decided there is a need for an all-inclusive, ADA compliant “play space.” The current structure was meant to last 20 years, and the city has been spending resources to maintain it. 

The structure has been a “staple of Grand Haven,” according to Chris Streng, co-chair of the volunteer committee heading the project, along with his wife, Kristi Streng. With that in mind, he said the main question in rebuilding was: “How do we make this so that all children and all adults of all abilities are able to enjoy this space?”

Students from Grand Haven-area elementary schools gave input about the structure’s design during three days in October. They created designs in teams and presented them to two playground designers and accessibility experts from Leathers & Associates, Maegan Marcheggiani and Danielle Campbell. 

Marcheggiani and Campbell used the students’ ideas as inspiration in the new Imagination Station’s final design. 

Chris Streng said what he loves about the project is that it has been inclusive in every way, from the play space itself to everything that goes into creating it.

“From the fundraising perspective, I think our team has done a great job in ensuring that all donors — be it time, talent, or treasure — everyone in the community is able to take part,” he said.

The team has come up with some creative ways of fundraising that kicked off this month.

Perhaps the most notable fundraising piece is Grand Haven-Opoly, a Monopoly game featuring Grand Haven locations designed by Cincinnati-based Late for the Sky.

Grand Haven businesses and organizations provided sponsorships of $300-$1,000 to be featured on the board. The “Go” square is dedicated to the Grand Haven Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation has a spot on one of the normal railroad squares. Some businesses featured on the board include Sweet Temptations, Forntino’s, Pronto Pups, Snug Harbor and Fricano’s. 

There are 1,000 games being sold for $39.99 each in several Grand Haven stores: MACkite, 106 Washington Ave.; The Bookman, 715 Washington Ave.; J-Dub’s Market and Wine Shop, 705 Washington Ave.; and Aberdeen’s, 207 Washington Ave. 

There also are $15 coffee mugs, featuring a rendering of the original Imagination Station, being sold in select Grand Haven stores: Aberdeen’s; Jumpin’ Java, 215 Washington Ave.; and the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, 200 Washington Ave.

Another way for community members to contribute financially to the project is by buying one of 940 pickets that will be used to build a fence around the structure. 

At $100 each, there is room on each picket for a name up to 22 characters.

Proceeds from this year’s Grand Haven Winterfest, taking place Jan. 25-28, go toward the project. The festival includes a beer- and wine-tasting fundraiser, including a live and silent auction, at the Grand Haven Eagles 925 clubhouse, 20 N. Second St.

The new structure will be built with various products, primarily a manufactured product that looks similar to dark wood but holds up better. The play space will include a rock climbing wall, sensory panels accessible by wheelchair, a swing that allows a child and parent to sit face-to-face, and a merry-go-round that can lock in a wheelchair alongside other standing children. Streng said they are looking for corporate sponsors for many of those pieces. 

Streng said there will be 1,600 volunteers scheduled to build the structure in October, many of whom built the first structure in 1990. Demolition is scheduled for this summer. 

Overall, Streng appreciates the uniqueness of having a project that has brought the community together in such a strong way.

“When we think about community thought-of project funded by the community and built by the community, it’s a recipe for success,” he said.

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