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O’Meara said she got the idea in part from 24/7 fitness centers like Anytime Fitness.
O’Meara said so far parents have been good at mediating playground squabbles and with cleaning up. And injuries have been limited to minor bumps and scrapes, O’Meara said.
The park’s location — at 3265 Northwood Circle, near the commercial heart of Eagan at Yankee Doodle and Pilot Knob roads — has also helped it gain business. A parent can take a 4-year-old for afternoon errands, O’Meara explains, with the promise of a trip to the park as a reward for good behavior.
That appeal would probably work for parents elsewhere in the metro area. After a year in business this April, O’Meara and her husband may start looking at whether to build or franchise new locations.
‘Kids can just run’
Part of the park’s success has come from unexpected popularity of monthly member passes, O’Meara said. The park has roughly 1,000 members.
Anne Wiltscheck became a member after learning about the park this fall. She visits with her 3- and 5-year-old daughters about twice a week, she said, often after she gets off work. “It’s a great place for them to burn off this energy,” she said, as Claire, her 3-year-old, came bouncing up to ask permission to play on the inflatable jumper.
In the picnic area, Beth Mena-Carrion hung out with her curly-haired twin boys, age 3, and their cousin. A member since August, she lives 10 minutes away in Bloomington and loves visiting on weekday mornings, she said. She brings her boys there about twice each week to play for two or three hours.
Here, she said, “kids can just run and parents don’t have to worry about them knocking anything over.”
Standing next to her boys, Mena-Carrion smiled. “Our house is only so big,” she said.
Graison Hensley Chapman is a Northfield freelance writer.