By Sue Botos
According to members of the Goldwood Primary School PTA, the school’s outdated playground equipment has suffered a slide into disrepair and needs a little push.
In a recent presentation to the school board, PTA members Deb DiCarlo and Beth McBride outlined plans for new equipment that will be safer, offer activities for even the youngest students and be more accessible to children with special needs.
“Our primary goal is to accommodate the entire student body,” stated McBride, who pointed out that the kindergarten play area was removed for construction of the new school office, and will not be replaced. She added that the current playground structures were not appropriate for the smallest children and are placed too close together according to updated regulations.
DiCarlo and McBride showed pictures of the present structures, which featured decaying wood and hardware as well as missing and nonfunctional pieces. The photos also showed climbing structures unsafely positioned over hard surfaces, and curbs that limited wheelchair accessibility. McBride noted that the equipment was donated by the 1991-1992 PTA.
“We want high capacity. There can be up to 200 kids on the playground at one time,” said McBride, adding that some of the current items can only accommodate one or two children at one time.
“The rest of the kids are just standing around waiting for their turn,” she continued, adding that the equipment should also offer a variety of physical challenges.
While a major overhaul is on the wish list, McBride emphasized that some items will be salvaged, such as a climbing dome. “This is our favorite. It’s in great shape, but it’s ugly,” she stated, showing a rendering of the dome repainted in bright colors.
DiCarlo noted that the PTA, along with Principal Carol Rosiak, has met with David Williams & Associates Inc., a noted area playground planning company, which designed the City Hall Park play area. “We really wanted to get (going). We’re not jumping the gun with this group,” DiCarlo said. “Nothing is etched in stone. We met with David Williams & Associates and Dr. Rosiak and told them what we wanted to do,” she added.
The work is planned in phases, according to DiCarlo and McBride, so funds for the entire project will not have to be secured at one time. “This way, the upgrade begins sooner rather than later,” said DiCarlo, who added that a wooden structure that once housed a tire swing will be the first to be replaced.
Cost for the first phase of the project is estimated at $25,000, including equipment and installation. DiCarlo said that the PTA already has $4,000 earmarked for that fund. Phase 2 features apparatus with names like “GT Accelerator” and the “Triton Climber,” and are expected to run about $18,000. DiCarlo added that $6,125 of that amount is slated for curb replacement, which will include lower spots for wheelchair access. “That will be done last, so it’s not destroyed during construction,” she said.
Having come up with a plan, fundraising will be the immediate focus, according to DiCarlo. “Where do we go from here?” she asked the board. She said that grants from local businesses, such as Lowe’s, are available, and “naming rights” like the paver project at the high school are possibilities. “It would be great to get this going during the summer, but we don’t know if it would be possible to raise funds that quickly,” she stated.
Asked about the cost of the planning work by Superintendent Michael Shoaf, DiCarlo responded that David Williams & Associates drew them up “with the hope that they would be used.”
Shoaf also offered help with researching pricing and fundraising options, agreeing that the playground is long overdue for a facelift. “I know what you’re talking about, because I hear it, believe me.”