A playground makeover


By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The village of Urbancrest could soon be home to one of the finest playgrounds in the community.

At the Feb. 14 village council meeting, it was announced that Martin Luther King Park was one of 10 locations nationwide  under consideration to receive a complete makeover through an initiative that encourages children and adults to get outside and play.

According to Jim Zink, the regional account executive with the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, there is a strong likelihood that Martin Luther King Park will be selected to receive new equipment for its playground and a modern beautification of its grounds.

“I would say there is a 99.9 percent chance the village will be selected for this build,” he said.

He said the only thing keeping him from saying there is a 100 percent chance was the fact that KaBOOM!, one of their partners in their Let’s Play initiative, has not been on site to look at the location as of Feb. 14. He believes that when they do, the non-profit organization will give him the go ahead to proceed with the project.

Barring any red lights, Zink estimates this new playground will be ready for public use by the summer of 2017.

However, one caveat to this project is there has to be community involvement in nearly every step of the process.

First, there must be community partners willing to get involved.

Marilyn Reiner, the events manager with the Grove City Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is on board. She said some of the members with the Southwest Community Leadership Program would be volunteering to install equipment come the day of the build.

Urbancrest Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. believes local business partners in the community would be willing to pitch in as well. He also said he has no reason to believe why they could not get 200 people to volunteer to build the playground as required.

Secondly, the designing input for the equipment has to come from the kids.

“They will design the playground,” said Zink.

The adults will get some say, too, when it comes to the beautification of the park.
Lastly, the community has to come out and enjoy this new playground when it officially opens for fun and play.

Councilwoman Veronica Shepherd thanked Zink, Reiner and the Let’s Play initiative for the
consideration of their community”

“It means so much to us,” she said.

Councilman Kenneth Skeaton agreed.

“This is wonderful and amazing,” he said.

Skeaton added he couldn’t believe that of the hundreds of communities who applied for the grant that theirs is one of the 10 who have been given a closer look.

Zink said in large part that was due to a grant essay submitted from Barnes, as well as the overwhelming sense of community from the village residents.

While the playground upgrade project with the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! is not entirely a done deal yet, its near certainty does add confusion to another planned playground project.

Several months ago, the Urbancrest Community Improvement Corporation said it was willing to pay for a project to update the playground equipment at Martin Luther King Park.

Though legislation to accept or reject the request is in the works – the council has yet to vote on the  proposal as of Feb. 14  – a few UCIC members questioned what should be done with their plans.

During the meeting, they discussed whether they should move their playground project to the Mayor’s Park Pavilion, but said more research would need to be done due to the park’s proximity to the railroad tracks.

A proposal to scrap the playground proposal was also discussed.

Councilwoman and UCIC member Alicia Wiggins said the only thing that matters is that the village gets a new playground.

“Either way I’m excited about it,” she said.


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