The playground at the Veteran’s Park on Eighth Street is temporarily closed and about to get an upgrade.
Officials with the City of Douglas have announced the old playground equipment, some of which was deteriorating, has been removed and a new, inclusive playground will soon be installed.
According to Jennifer Smith, Leisure Services Manager for Douglas, the project was made possible through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
“The playground is designed to provide a play space for kids with all abilities,” Smith said. “The equipment comes with accessible play areas, ramp entries, poured in place rubber surfacing, engineered wood fiber, and some of the newest playground products of the year.”
City crews began removing the old playground equipment several weeks ago. What playground equipment is salvageable will be used in other parks around Douglas.
The new playground equipment was purchased from Triple M Recreation out of Phoenix and arrived on Monday, Feb. 11 from Alabama.
Smith said the purchased equipment and surfacing has qualified the City for national recognition through GameTime, a leading commercial playground manufacturer. A National Demonstration Site gives the city national recognition for commitment to excellence in best practice design. According to GameTimes’ website, qualifying sites receive certification and signage, are added to a national database, vigorously promoted in regional and national publications and presented as best practice examples in outreach and educational seminars. Douglas would be one of two National Demonstration Sites in the state.
The new playground consists of various components. The main structure is equipped with wheelchair accessibility, musical instruments, communication, rocking, climbing, crawl through spaces, turning and swirling.
Other areas include a merry-go-round, a tri-runner, an expression swing, and a sensory seat that will allow kids to rock back and forth.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for the City of Douglas,” Smith said. “It’s also an opportunity for kids of all abilities to play together.”
Most of the installation will be completed by a certified playground contractor. City staff will take care of all the ground work and install of some of the freestanding equipment. Future developments include landscaping, additional lighting, trees, seating, and more.
Smith said she had applied for a 100 percent matching grant through GameTime and Triple M Recreation which has been approved.
“The grant matched the city’s cost for the main structure,” she said. “The amount we saved with the grant allowed us to purchase additional freestanding equipment,” she said.
Smith estimated the cost of the total project to be $125,000 in CDBG funds allocated for this project.
“This will be the first accessible playground in Douglas,” she said.
Smith admits she is very passionate about this project.
“It’s not just about a playground,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for kids of all abilities to engage and play with each other. It also improves the quality of life for the entire community.”
The project is due to be completed sometime in late April or early May.