New Miller Park playground equipment approved by Council

Florence City Council approved the pictured design by Buell Recreation. The community was able to give input in a community survey. The structure will appear as pictured except for its color as the community choose the “Lagoon” or blue and gold color scheme in the survey. The design will also include elements that represent both the Siuslaw Vikings and Mapleton Sailors. Courtesy City of Florence

Construction on the playground will begin in June, with reopening targeted for Aug. 1

Feb. 18, 2023 — Progress on the Miller Park playground rehabilitation project took a leap forward this month as the Florence City Council unanimously approved the purchase of new playground equipment totaling $236,481, the majority of which is covered with grants and donations.

The newly designed playground includes a host of play structures, including a musical play station, a rock climb structure, a domed climber, a spinner and a balance path.

“Miller Park is not only our largest developed park, but it is our signature park for the community,” Public Works Director Mike Miller said during a Jan. 23 city council meeting, in which he described that the timeline for the changes is expected to begin with the demolition of the current play structure in June.

The target reopen date is Aug. 1, the same day as the annual National Night Out event, which takes place at the park.

With construction occurring during the first months of summer vacation, the City pledged to keep communications up, including directing park users to other parks in the neighborhood when construction on the playground occurs.

A construction camera is expected to be set up, and “we’ll have a lot of Facebook posts and social media posts about the project and keep everyone informed as we move through this process,” Miller said.

The council began the discussion on the project with Miller describing the project’s history, which centered around replacing the park’s current 35-year-old play structure, known as “Fort Miller.”

“While it has served the community well, it no longer meets the strict safety and ADA regulations of 2023,” Miller told the council. “Based on this and community input, there is a great need for an updated, safe, inclusive and accessible play structure for our citizens and our visitors as well.”

The community input came one of two ways, one of which was a survey held in January, which received 411 respondents.

One section of the survey asked respondents to rank which types of structures they would like to see at the park, with “musical instruments” coming in first, followed by “overhead climbers,” “rock climbers” and “spinners,” all of which were incorporated into the design.

“There’s all kinds of different types of musical stations — you have the kind of the xylophone pipe with actual metal instruments and hammers that make noise,” Miller said in describing the station. “We wanted something that people could play with but not have hammers and tools go missing.”

As for the rock wall, it’s not a “vertical wall, but an actual rock type feature” which can be climbed in a variety of ways, Miller explained.

The survey also asked respondents to choose the color of the equipment, with “the overwhelming response, with 186 responses, was the blue and gold Siuslaw colors,” Miller said. Additional materials from the city state they “will also work to provide [color] elements that represent both the Siuslaw Vikings and the Mapleton Sailors.”

The survey also asked whether or not the existing fence outlining the play area should remain, with 78 percent responding that it should.

“This really surprised me,” Miller said, stating that “people that don’t want the fence are very adamant about it,” but the “overwhelming” response was to keep it.

Further clarification on the fence from the City stated the “updated play area will include more gates around the structure for quicker access from all sides.”

The survey also provided an open ended question, asking what people would like to see incorporated into not just the playground area, but the park as a whole.

“We received 197 responses, ranging anywhere from benches inside the play area to rope climbings, to a water feature, a natural playscape, and then other items such as an obstacle and agility course, a swinging bridge, rain and sun cover over the playground, a rock wall, a small ferris wheel, spinning platform with nets, windbreaks and a zipline.”

Public Works also attended the Siuslaw Vision Family Table event in January, where they sat down with multiple individuals to discuss possible plans for the park.

“We received a lot of positive comments, and also requests for additional features at Miller Park,” Miller said. Those included “a community center, a covered play area, a water play park, use of mulched rubber tires for the  play area [and] additional benches around the playground…”

While many of the suggestions were beyond the scope of the current playground project, the city was able to incorporate some requests, including more benches and trash receptacles in the area.

Regarding mulched rubber, Miller stated he had heard various cities recommending against it, stating that it was both expensive, and when it breaks down, it releases toxins. He stated that other parks in the Northwest are “doing everything they can to remove it” from city parks.

And while multiple suggestions have been made to cover the park, Miller said “It’s possible, but there’s some drawback to covering.” 

If a cover were to be included, the cost of the project would at least double, according to information provided by the city, and the timeline would increase to years. Architectural designs would have to be done and land use approvals and building permitting would be required.

However, the City didn’t rule out a covered play area, or other suggestions, completely. While they may not fit this particular project, future projects could incorporate such ideas, if funding, planning and community involvement continue.

To pay for the current project, the City has a group of pending grants and donations, including $5,000 from the Rotary club of Florence, as well as $2,500 from the Elks and Kiwanis clubs. The City also expects a $25,000 For Family Foundation Small Good Neighbor grant.

The total approved and pending grants, along with donations, equals $196,631 — $39,850 less than the equipment's $236,481 price tag. The remaining amount will be funded through the City’s Parks Capital Improvements program.

The new Miller Park play structure will be provided by Buell Recreation, which also provided the play equipment in the 18th Street Pocket Park.

More information on the project can be found at:

The site is updated regularly, and includes a link for play structure donations, found here: