New playground is ready for kids

The new playground equipment is up at Wilson Park and the construction barrier came down today so curious children could give it a try.

In less than two days, the ADA accessible metal and plastic structure was assembled by 27 workers who paid for hands-on training in the neighborhood park at the east end of May Street.

These individuals were guided by five instructors and joined by about nine volunteers and city public works employees for replacement of the aging equipment that had been installed during the late 1950s.

Mark Lago, director of the city’s public works/engineering department, and Lori Stirn, head of Hood River County Parks and Recreation District, supervised participants in the pilot program offered by the Oregon Recreation and Parks Association.

Although similar trainings have been held in the past at no charge, Stirn said people from across the state paid a $50 registration fee to learn assembly techniques under the guidance of Jerry Burgess, a supervisor for the state’s largest recreation district in Tualitan which maintains 214 parks. Burgess said the new state program allows cities like Hood River to save about 25 percent on playground equipment that is typically used to cover installation costs.

Michelle Bizek, owner of All About The Playground in Oregon City, said the two-day workshop taught her how to survey and she was surprised by the technical expertise the assembly job required.

“You just have to be so precise, you can’t just wing it and hope it turns out all right,” she said.

The equipment itself was purchased by the city from developer fees for about $15,000 from Creative Play Structures of Hood River, a business owned by David Jubitz. It is expected to have a life span of at least 20 years and provide much more interest for youngsters from age five through 12.

Lago and Stirn have partnered to bring similar ADA compliance upgrades to two other city parks. Equipment similar to that set up in Wilson Park will be installed at Pacific Heights. The two public agencies have also worked jointly to obtain a $138,000 state grant that will be used to build new restrooms and play structures at the heavily used Jackson Park by July of 2003.

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