New play area nearing completion

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, February 14, 2019

Suffolk’s first playground to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act is in place in the KidsZone at Lake Meade Park, but the surface underneath it is not — yet.

When that happens depends on the weather, according to Terry Baronner, parks manager for Suffolk Parks and Recreation. He said there needs to be a few days in a row of 50-plus degree temperatures to put in the rubber surfacing.

The surface will take about a week to put in, Baronner said, and then soon after, the new playground, located between the skate park and the Fit Zone area, will have a soft opening, with a more formal ribbon-cutting planned after that.

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“We’ve had some issues with the weather,” Baronner said. “The rain has not cooperated with us. We had some issues with drainage we’re working through, but the playground is pretty much finished.”

Besides the surfacing, a shade structure still needs to be put onto the playground, Baronner said.

In the case of the new playground, ADA compliant means it is accessible for those with movement disability, has ramps wide enough for wheelchairs and is designed for children with behavior or sensory issues.

“No matter what their limitations are, they can use the equipment,” Baronner said.

The city received an $80,000 grant from GameTime, an outdoor fitness and playground equipment company, to put toward the playground, with the city kicking in $192,000, Baronner said.

Baronner said the city chose Lake Meade Park for its first ADA-compliant playground because its infrastructure could support it, and otherwise, the city would have had to spend more money on it.

There are also plans to add three to four swings that have ADA-compliant seats, as well as an ADA-compliant spinning component, he said, but he said it is awaiting another $50,000 in grant money, which is expected to come in March.

Baronner said the new playground’s bold, neon green and orange colors on the new playground at Lake Meade Park have attracted a lot of attention from children wanting to know when they can play on it.

“Everybody wants to know when it’s going to open,” Baronner said. “It’s all new. That’s why we picked that color scheme.”

Another group, the Inclusive Play Project, has plans to build an inclusive, universal playground in North Suffolk. The group, approved by the Suffolk School Board last October to design, build and donate an inclusive playground at Northern Shores Elementary School, hopes to raise about $1.5 million for the project.