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New (but smaller) playground coming for Westside Community Center

       For any kids (or adults) disappointed at finding the old playground gone at the Westside Community Center, help is on the way.
       City Parks plans to have a replacement playground installed by the end of June, according to Jake Butterfield, who leads the playground inspection program for Colorado Springs Parks.
       He is listed as the contact for citizen questions on a sign that a city crew placed on a nearby fence: 385-6523 or jbutterfield@springsgov.com.
A view toward the intersection of 16th Street and Platte Avenue shows the currently vacant playground space at the northeast corner of the Westside Community Center property. City Parks, which removed the equipment April 24-25, plans to install new equipment by the end of June.
Courtesy of Aundrea Fuller
The location is the northeast corner of the one-block property bounded by 16th and 17th streets and Bijou Street and Platte Avenue.
       The new playground space will be reduced from the previous 6,700 square feet to 4,000 square feet. But Butterfield pledged in a phone interview that it will have “the newest and funnest equipment,” with similar features as before, most likely including a slide, a climber and swings.
       The equipment choices will be made by his staff and himself.
       The previous playground was there when Buena Vista Elementary relocated in 2009 - after which the city took over the site and moved the Community Center to the site.
       It is not known when the playground went in, but Aundrea Fuller of the Community Center said that a buried time capsule, dated 1995, was found by the City Parks crew that removed the equipment April 24 and 25.
       (As of April 27, she didn't know what was in the capsule, or who put it there, because the materials were wet and she's letting them dry out.)
In a photo taken from about the same angle as the one above, the Westside Community Center playground - originally installed when the site was Buena Vista Elementary School - is shown as it looked earlier this year.
Courtesy of Aundrea Fuller
Fuller was surprised by the playground removal. “We thought it looked great,” she said.
       Asked why the change was deemed necessary, Butterfield said it was a decision his staff had made based on findings that the previous equipment was “old and out of compliance.” He did not have other details at hand.
       He did clarify that there was no urgent safety issue, and added that all the equipment in the city's playgrounds are inspected weekly, plus an in-depth annual inspection is done.
       One problem he knew of was that the old surface was pea gravel, which is not handicapped-accessible. He said the new surface will be “engineered wood fiber” (a specially made type of wood chips).
       The removal occurred before a contractor was hired. Butterfield explained that the Community Center is one of four locations where the city is changing out playground equipment this year; also, he said, money was saved by using city crews for the removal instead of contractors.
       Asked about the smaller size of the replacement playground, Butterfield said it's part of his job “to evaluate the uses of a playground, to determine what we can afford and what other playgrounds are servicing the neighborhood.”
       Among those nearby playgrounds are those at Cucharras Park, Thorndale Park, Blunt Park and West Elementary/Middle School, he said.
       Playground equipment has gotten expensive, he added, estimating that the Community Center's new, smaller space will cost close to $100,000.
       Bids are being taken for the Community Center project, Butterfield said, with the plan to hire a contractor by June, order equipment and have the new playground ready for use by the end of that month.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/27/17; Community : Westside Community Center)

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