Winter weather delaying new Fairview Heights playground

News-DemocratMarch 8, 2014 

— The still lingering winter weather has delayed plans to build a new playground and pavilions at Moody Park at Longacre.

Angela Beaston, the parks and recreation district director, said initial plans called for having new plastic and fiberglass playground equipment ready in May to replace the wooden one that was dismantled last fall. Beaston is now hopes to have the project completed by June. She also said the pavilions at the 90-acre park will be renovated later this year.

"I really don't know everything about it right now because of the weather, and we have not be able to move forward and some of the things have been put on the back burner," Beaston said.

The City Council and city's finance committee has already approved $275,000 from the general fund to pay for the new playground equipment and a general design has been agreed upon. On Thursday, the city's park district committee elected to pursue additional funding. But before the job can be put out for bid, and the park district needs to decide whether to use a mulch or rubberized surface for the playground.

Beaston said both surfaces are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but a rubberized surface would provide better access for children with disabilities, especially those who use wheelchairs. The park district also would have to request additional funding from the City Council and finance committee if a rubberized surface is selected.

Ward 2 Alderman Justin Gough sits on the parks and recreation committee and estimates that a rubberized surface could cost an additional $90,000. He said the playground has been an asset to the community.

"I think the old playground, when it was new, brought a lot of people to the park and the city, where they spent money," Gough said. "But it got outdated and if you could replace it with something new, I think that would restart that cycle all over again. I have friends who would drive 20 or 30 minutes to go to that park with their kids."

The former wooden playground equipment was built in 1995. Beaston said that because the wood had splintered over the years and had caused recent injuries, the park district had it dismantled in November.

"We were just having so many maintenance issues with it because of the wooden structure," she said. "I know several other communities in this area had the same type of playground installed almost at the exact same time and they also removed theirs."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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