Construction of new Ice Age-themed playground coming along in Riverfront Park

SPOKANE, Wash. — It may not look like much now, but the dirt lot on the North Bank of Riverfront Park will soon transform into a place for kids and families.

Construction is underway for a $9.9 million playground. It’s not your typical one. This playground is inspired by the Ice Age floods.

“That’s the best kind of teaching is you’re getting educated when you really don’t know it and you’re having fun while you’re doing it,” said Garrett Jones, Director of Spokane Parks and Rec.

Crews broke ground last year and have made a lot of headway since. The playground will take families through an educational journey. If you enter from Howard Street, you’ll be greeted by the iconic Riverfront Park sign and a playground.

“As we move up here on this pad, we’re going to have a custom play piece that’s actually going to be about 35 feet up in the air from this point,” Jones said as he took 4 News Now on a tour. “We’re going to have ADA access, you’ll see that it’s going up. You’ll have direct connection to the Sportsplex.”

The playground will have tube slides and a play structure. The ground will be made of rubber and artificial turf, Jones said.

“And like a part of the Ice Age floods, there were big log jams that took out different vegetation so this kinda represents this,” Jones said.

Playground at Riverfront Park rendering

Next to the playground is a splash pad, plus more places for kids to play.

“This is all concrete and a play piece this rock,” Jones explained. “It’s made to look like the basalt of the geology that we had through here at the time of the floods and how it shaped.”

Through the rocks are “cracks,” which are misters for the splash pad. Next to that is a waterfall.

“It actually tells a story you know, from here where the floods started and then here’s how they moved through time,” Jones said, “and then a waterfall that it’s almost like, OK, the dam broke and then here comes the big gush of water.”

A boulder will be nearby for intermediate and technical climbers, something to remember Jess Roskelley by. He was a Spokane climber who died after an avalanche swept through an area he was climbing in Canada. Supporters of the Jess Roskelley Foundation donated the money to put in the boulder.

Near the boulder is a piece of state history. A fossil of a mammoth. Jones said it’s Washington’s state fossil.

These pieces are just the tip of the iceberg. Parks and Rec is also constructing a skate park. It’ll have a piece of the Under the Freeway skate park, which was removed a few years ago. Local skaters saved a piece of it, which will go in at the new park.

Skate park Riverfront Park

Across the way is a basketball court with six hoops, funded by Hooptown USA.

“An outdoor basketball facility that’s going to have speakers for music,” Jones said. “It’s going to have all the amenities that you need for an awesome experience playing basketball.”

Two pavilions will have picnic tables underneath, plus trees for some extra shade. Parks and Rec is also putting in rubber mounds for kids to roll down.

They’ll put in about 160 parking spots with a drop off zone for buses off of Washington Street. Jones said they’re going to reconfigure the area to make the park more accessible. Plus, they’ll put in a new Riverfront Park sign at the east entrance.

The park is expected to be done by Spring 2021.

“Every different child can use this playground in a different way, which is pretty unique,” Jones said.

PHOTOS: Work underway on new Riverfront Park playground