Cover photo courtesy of David Kravetz.
An assessment report on the Jacobson Park Playground performed by the company that designed the playground 20 years ago has been completed.
The report from Leathers & Associates said, “Most of the structure is in poor shape with many parts of the structure and equipment in need of repair. These areas can be repaired to their original condition or in some cases there are newer options that offer more maintenance-friendly materials. When rebuilding or replacing, recycled plastic and low-maintenance materials will be utilized as much as possible.”
In a letter to Parks Director Brad Chambers, Marc Leathers, president of Leathers & Associates, noted that playgrounds at Jacobson and Shillito Parks have been well-cared for. “You have done a good job taking care of these over the years and it shows by these playgrounds still being used today after 20-plus years.”
The report concludes that “considering the age of the structure and the estimated budget to do a good renovation, serious consideration should be given to replacing it with a new playground.”
“The new playgrounds we are building today have the same custom opportunities and community impact potential. The materials have changed significantly. We no longer use any wood. We use several types of recycled plastics. We no longer use any nails. All fasteners are special screw bolts, etc.”
“The combination of all of these means a finished product that requires very minimal maintenance. These playgrounds are expected to last minimally 30 years.”
Costs for a new playground range from $250,000 to $450,000. Renovation of the current playground to meet renovation recommendations would be $175,000, if volunteers do the work.
Leathers noted several safety concerns with the playground – boards missing, exposed bolts, a steel frame added to the bottom – that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
The playground was built in 1992 by more than 2,000 volunteers. A similar playground was built at Shillito Park in 1993.
The city budget includes up to $300,000 to replace the Jacobson playground this year. But some parents and volunteers have objected to replacing the playground and have said they would like to see it renovated instead.
A focus group has been formed to look at renovation vs. replacement.