President of the Friends of the Nature Center Group Audrey Alfson, right, calls the crowd to order at the playhouse and zip line dedication ceremony on Sunday.

Contributed photo

The children of Houston are now spoiled with not only a natural playground but a playhouse and zip line to match.

Although it officially opened Sunday, the summer project was finished in August.

“It’s been a great project,” Friends of the Nature Center Group member Roger Meyer said. “We had a donor come to us who wanted to donate to the natural playground. We gave them a list of ideas like monkey bars and slides. They ended up liking the idea of a treehouse. We started in early May.”

The donation was in memory of Teresa and Banjo Erickson, who passed away in an automobile accident in 2015. A tree was also dedicated to them at the ceremony.

“It was a surprise. We normally don’t get donations of this size. It amounted to a number of thousands of dollars. I’m sure it was quite fun to not be as restrained,” Nature Center Manager Sue Wiegrefe said.

The natural playground was a project started by the nature center in 2013.

“Our mission is to educate people about the fun that can be had without lots of plastic or metal gadgetry. Things that are very simple yet give something for kids to do actively in the outdoors. It allows them to bond in the outdoors and set up a lifetime love of the outdoors,” Wiegrefe said.

The playhouse is 10 feet off the ground and features a cable bridge, while volunteers will run the zip line on the weekends. The zip line will have a weight restriction of about 85 pounds.

“I think it’s great that it’s causing a buzz,” Wiegrefe said. “I’m hoping that even more residents of Houston, as well as people from out of town, get to see it. It’s amazing how many of the Houstonites are oblivious to this small park over here. Hopefully, when folks come over they will meander around and see all the other things it has to offer.”

For Meyer, the project has been a labor of love.

“I’m just thrilled it came out well,” he said. “Part of the fun is engineering everything.”

Although the donation helped the project get under way, local businesses and people like Wayne Feldmeier, Affordable Roofing & Siding and Pat McAndrews helped the project come together.

“Everyone we worked with donated time or some money to help the project become very successful,” Meyer said.


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