Merriam dedicates new public art, playground relocated to Waterfall Park

Merriam has moved playground equipment from Vavra Park to Waterfall Park.

Merriam residents had a double celebration on a hot and humid Tuesday night at Waterfall Park.

City leaders and staff last night dedicated an area of the 15-acre park to be the new site for playground equipment formerly at Vavra Park. City officials also officially dedicated a new, $95,000 sculpture of a caterpillar and butterfly on the northern side of the park abutting Merriam Drive.

The sculpture, “Hmmm…” is designed by Colorado artist Joshua Weiner, who attended the dedication ceremony. The 9-foot tall caterpillar stands next to a 12-foot cairn, stack of granite river boulders, with a butterfly perched on top.

Merriam art committee and city councilmembers joined sculptor Joshua Weiner to dedicate the new public artwork at Waterfall Park,

“As any of you who’ve walked by it or are going to walk by it today will know, it’s a very whimsical, playful piece,” said Merriam Councilmember Chris Evans Hands. “It has a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly; it has the cairns which are pathway markers as well as placemarkers. It makes me feel that Merriam is still transforming, and I really like that vision for us.”

The sculpture is the third of five pieces in the city’s five-year public art initiative.

Plus, city staff moved the playground equipment from Vavra Park to make room for the new community center under construction. A grill and benches from Vavra have also been relocated with the playground equipment to Waterfall Park.

Dave Smothers

Dave Smothers, assistant parks and recreation director for Merriam, said Waterfall Park never had a playground prior to the relocation of playsets from Vavra Park.

“It’s really hard to take it all apart and then take it over to another park and reassemble,” Smothers said. “The Public Works Department did a fantastic job, saved us a lot on labor.”

Jenna Gant, communications and public engagement manager, said the city spent about $55,000 from the general fund to permanently relocate everything to Waterfall Park, but most of the money was used for concrete and new safety surface at the new site.

Meanwhile, the park was bustling with activity on Tuesday from both Party in YOUR Park and the Merriam Police Department’s National Night Out events. Children played on the “new” playground while families enjoyed live music and fellowship.