Bekah Stelling (copy)

Parent and merchant Bekah Stelling tells Baraboo parks leaders last year about her idea for an obstacle course geared toward teens.

Ochsner Park could become home to a playground for teens.

Placing a challenge/fitness park at Ochsner would make sense because it lies close to the high and middle schools, members of the Baraboo Parks Commission said March 18.

Last year, local mother and businesswoman Bekah Stelling proposed adding playground equipment designed for teens to the Baraboo park system. Teen playgrounds are popping up around the country.

Parks Director Mike Hardy said an open spot near a 20x40-foot shelter at Ochsner might be ideal. The park lies just down Draper Street from the schools, and just up the hill from the Riverwalk.

“A lot of the fitness park users who use the Riverwalk could run up and use that as well,” Hardy said.

Attridge, Mary Rountree Evans and Mary Hoppe Felts parks also were considered.

Commission President Roy Franzen said Ochsner’s location makes it the right spot. “A lot of kids cut through the park,” he said. You don’t have nearly as many kids climbing the hill to Hoppe Park.”

Commissioner James Francisco said he’d like to see the playground incorporated in the schools’ physical education curriculum. “I think that’s an area that isn’t being utilized for anything at this point,” he said.

Commissioners plan to discuss designs and funding with Stelling at next month’s meeting. They told her a year ago that private donations would be critical. She has been approached by a donor who, spurred to action by a Florida high school shooting, offered a $5,000 gift for a teen playground if the city can match it.

Other communities’ teen playgrounds feature climbing apparatuses, mechanical seesaws, gliders and other equipment. Individual components of such playgrounds cost anywhere from $100 to $4,000.

Hardy said a dedicated teen area could become a healthy hangout complete with benches and solar-powered charging stations for phones, games and other gadgets.

“We’d rather have kids hanging in a place where everyone knows where they are,” he said.

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley or call him at 745-3507.

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter

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