New playground equipment was proposed and a grant application for a splash pad were discussed at the City Council meeting on February 6th, 2019.
In 2018, the city spent $25,000 improving the playground equipment at Swinyard Park, and now they’re almost ready to do so again. A citizen’s committee was formed in 2018 to make a purchase recommendation to the council and has been asked to continue their work. Jason Upchurch, a member of the committee and a local pastor, presented the committee’s recommendations to the council, but was met with questions as to the materials used, weight, and safety of the proposed playground feature.
The committee’s proposal was to install an 8’ tall climbing boulder in a wood chip area surrounded by a border of smaller boulders. They also included a bench or two where parents could connect with each other while supervising the play at this new feature and the playground equipment installed in 2018.
Councilmember Don Stevens said that he was not really in favor of anything over a height of 3’ for children to climb on, but Councilmember Joe Polowski led the rebuttal by saying it “was good for kids to fall and get a little hurt because that way they find out that life hurts.” Audience members were enthusiastic about the idea, and the parents who spoke from the crowd responded favorably to the 8’ boulder. The citizens’ committee was comprised solely of parents with young children, and other municipalities were referenced that had taller play structures and were considered perfectly safe.
Disclosure: The reporter writing this is on the committee that proposed that specific plan and is in favor of the committee’s proposal.
The parks came up again just a few minutes later when Roger Krieger, the Community Service Director, asked the council to authorize updating the parks section of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. While the overall plan has had changes made, the parks sections hasn’t been updated since 2002. Councilmember Dee Cragun spoke to her work towards installing a city splash pad for the last year-and-a-half, and said the grant the city will be applying for requires an updated comprehensive plan.
The grant also requires a survey of the citizens to demonstrate that the splash pad is desired by a large portion of the community. Krieger said that a survey would likely be included in April’s water bill. As the council remembered the fireworks survey debacle, they discussed options for making the survey available to all, with public pick-up options like the library, through local newspapers, and online.
Kreiger also pointed out that the parks section of the Comprehensive Plan is a macro look at the city’s parks, and wouldn’t involve micro details like the playground equipment. Instead, the city’s plan includes the number of acres dedicated to parks and recreation as well as the ratio of acreage to population. Deer Park’s current ratio exceeds the legal minimum by almost 600% – which means there is an abundance of park space for the number of people living within Deer Park city limits.
Deer Park’s Comprehensive Plan is available online here.