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Parks, Recreation & Forestry News

Posted on: December 29, 2021

Sun Prairie Parks, Recreation & Forestry Receives Four Major Awards!

photo of Tom & Rita Tubbs Splashpad and Playground at Wetmore Park

The City of Sun Prairie Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department (SPPRF) has received a total of four awards with one from the Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association and three from the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association. 


Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association 

Tom & Rita Tubbs Splashpad and Playground at Wetmore Parkphoto of Tom & Rita Tubbs Splashpad and Playground at Wetmore Park

The newly constructed Tom and Rita Tubbs Splashpad and Playground at Wetmore Park received the Concrete Design Award for its creative use of ready-mixed concrete. The Splashpad and Playground is a garden-themed, 2,413 square foot wet deck with a total of 36 spray features and a 5,414 square foot playground featuring a 1-story tube slide. The project was first proposed in 2017 as a future capital improvement project. In 2018, the Sun Prairie Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission worked with staff on determining a location for the future splashpad. City Council approved Wetmore Park and made its decision based on an evaluation of parking, existing water, equity and access, and programming space. In 2019, both a conceptual plan and master plan of the park were completed. These plans determined the location of the spashpad within the park boundaries in relation to programming and future park improvements. Design for the splashpad began late summer of 2020. Construction began in early 2021 and the facility opened on June 30, 2021.  The City contracted with Parisi Construction Co., Inc. and used ready-mix concrete from LYCON Inc.


 Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association

Park Design awards are broken up into four different categories on the total project cost. These categories consist of being under $250,000, between $250,000 and $499,999, between $500,000 and $999,999, and over $1,000,000. Each project is recognized in the cost category based on a series of criteria that include innovation, functionalism, aesthetics, community benefits, environmental stewardship, and maintenance. 

SPPRF applied for and received the following 2021 awards: 

  • Park Design under $250,000 for Sunset Park
  • Park Design between $250,000 - $499,999 for Vandenburg Heights Park
  • The Silver Star Award for Creative Service Delivery/Marketing for the FUN Prairie marketing campaign. 

Sunset ParkRendering of Sunset Park Master Plan

The new Sunset Park was recognized for its master plan and phase one of construction, which included a playground and parking lot. It is located on the northwest side of town and placed high on a hill with views overlooking natural areas below. Public input was utilized in the development of the park’s master plan, which was completed by Blake Theisen, the landscape architect who also designed the Tom & Rita Tubbs Splashpad and Playground at Wetmore Park.  The plan was developed with special interest from the Sun Prairie Area School District due to the close proximity of the park to one of their newest schools, Token Springs Elementary School. Long-term plans for the park include a four-season shelter, outdoor classroom, sledding hill, mowed and paved trails, and scenic overlooks/access to Token Creek. Future phases of construction are planned for completion by 2031.

photo of Sunset Park playground & parking lot 

Vandenberg Heights Park

This 3.1-acre park is centrally located within Sun Prairie in the Vandenburg Heights neighborhood. Vandenburg Heights Park was recognized due to its $421,000 redevelopment project in late 2020 and early 2021 that resulted in an accessible and inclusive park. Included in this update were ramps to every level of the playground, poured-in-place safety surfacing, a 20’ by 20’ open-air shelter, reconstructed basketball court, and accessible sidewalks to all park amenities. In early 2021, SPPRF was notified of a bequest from the late Marlene Hyer, a Sun Prairie resident and former Sun Prairie High School English teacher, which resulted in adding a community garden that is entirely supported by volunteers and is open to all in the community to stop by and gather fresh produce when available for harvest. A major motivation of revamping the aging park was to provide an inclusive park in a central location while also creating a space to promote engagement and comradery amongst residents of the neighborhood. 

photo of Vandenburg Heights Park gardenphoto of Vandenburg Heights Park playground



FUN Prairie Marketing Campaign City of Fun Prairie logo

SPPRF received the Silver Star Award under the Creative Service Delivery/Marketing category for the FUN Prairie marketing campaign that occurred in July 2021, which coincided with the nationally recognized Parks and Recreation Month. FUN Prairie kicked off at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Tom and Rita Tubbs Splashpad and Playground at Wetmore Park. By proclamation, Mayor Esser changed the name from the City of Sun Prairie to “the City of FUN Prairie” during a June City Council meeting. SPPRF worked with a variety of community partners and sponsors to highlight all of the fun that exists in the community. 


“It is incredibly exciting to be recognized for all of the great things happening within Sun Prairie Parks, Recreation, and Forestry,” said Kristin Grissom, Director of Parks, Recreation, & Forestry. “This is a direct testament to the hard work of an extremely talented team as well as being fortunate enough to work with some of the best vendors and consultants in the industry to make our project visions come to life.” 

Members from the SPPRF team will accept the awards from the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association at the annual awards banquet on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. The awards will be on display at the Westside Community Services Building, located at 2598 West Main Street. 

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