In 2022, we helped land a colorful, 15-foot-tall pelican landed next to the River’s Edge Pavilion! This pelican features climbing structures, a slide, a hammock and a lookout perch. Its new home is called Belles’ Play Garden. Encompassing over 2,000-square-feet, the Play Garden also features a series of Missouri River-inspired play and educational elements, interpretive seating, and rich native plantings. Since its opening, children and young families have made Belles Play Garden on of the Riverfront’s most popular spots.
Belles’ Play Garden is part of the “Go Play” initiative co-founded by Rick Knudtson & Heather Tomasek, and Marlina & Dusty Davidson. Together with their families, they provided the major funding to make this project a reality. Marlina and Dusty were born and raised in Council Bluffs. Heather formerly worked for the Council Bluffs Parks and Recreation Department, managing the landscape architecture for Phase II of River’s Edge Park.
‘This Go Play initiative was founded to return play to the park and the surrounding neighborhoods,’ Tomasek said. ‘Both our families have young daughters, Ella (El Belle) Knudtson and Annabelle Davidson. They love spending time at various parks, so Belles’ Play Garden is named in their honor.”
We partnered with the Iowa West Foundation to provide additional funding for the project.
Project Partners: Rick Knudtson & Heather Tomasek, Marlina & Dusty Davidson and the Iowa West Foundation, City of Council Bluffs
Estimated Financial Support: Back to the River – $300,000
Estimated Total Project Cost: $600,000