Hutchinson park lovers will soon have a new reason to visit downtown Fireman’s Park. The Hutchinson Fire Department, which sponsors the riverside park next to Wells Fargo, has plans for $116,000 of renovations, including upgrades to the shelter and a new playground.

“We think it’s a good location for a new park just because of the location downtown,” Randy Abelson, assistant chief of the HFD, told City Council last week. “From talking with the parks department, that shelter does get used by people now. We think we can get more use out of it by doing upgrades and doing playground upgrades.”

The project has already started with work on the shelter. New countertops have been built, new wiring for electrical upgrades is in the ground and awaiting a new paint job to be finished, and a new cement sidewalk was installed from the bike path to the shelter

“We still have some work to do, but we’re working on it to get it looking nice,” Abelson said.

The biggest part of the project is the new playground, which Abelson said the HFD plans to execute in three phases, with each phase building up the playground and expanding on the previous phases.

Estimates for each phase of the playground work are $29,936 for Phase 1, $48,651 for Phase 2, and $36,523 for Phase 3. The plan is to try to complete one phase each year, or as funds are available.

“These are all approximate numbers,” Abelson said. “We do know there is going to be price increases with annual costs of stuff.”

Funding for the project comes from multiple sources. The Southwest Initiative Foundation provided funds for the shelter upgrades, while funds for the first phase of the playground renovation come from the Fire Department Relief Association ($15,000) and the city parks department ($20,000).

“We’re actively seeking donations from businesses and foundations in the town,” Abelson said. “With the open house we had this last weekend, we had pictures of our park up. We had a lot of good input from, obviously kids are really excited about it.”

While the goal is to use funds from the fire department and private donations to pay for the remainder of the playground upgrades, members of the City Council discussed the possibility of contributing an additional $40,000 from the Community Improvement Fund to help complete Phase 2 of the playground sooner.

“I think it can become more of a flagship park,” said Council Member Chad Czmowski. “I really like it when organizations do a lot of legwork on the front end.”

“There’s people always there, having lunch, kids playing,” Council Member Mary Christensen said. “It is a nice little place to put this. It will be utilized.”

The Council approved the project and an agenda item to discuss a larger contribution will be added to a future City Council meeting.