London City Schools plans to replace elementary playground

(Posted Jan. 19, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London City Schools plans to completely replace the playground at London Elementary this summer. The playground serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The district posted a request for proposals (RFP) on Jan. 16, looking for a single company to handle excavation of the current playground, as well as design and installation of the new playground in the same spot.

The current playground was constructed in 2004 when the new elementary school was built. It is divided into two areas: one for grades K-2 that covers 7,600 square feet and one for grades 3-5 that covers 10,220 square feet.

“After 20 years, the equipment is beginning to show wear and needs replacement,” states the RFP.

Dr. Lou Kramer, school superintendent, said one of the biggest issues with the current playground is surface maintenance. The entire playground is covered in mulch.

“There are areas around the playground that have eroded over time. We keep adding more and more mulch each year to the fall zones which is becoming pretty costly,” he said.

The district wants the new playground to have a more low-maintenance surface, such as artificial turf or a poured-in-place rubber-based material.

The district also is doing more and more repairs and replacements to the playground equipment, such as the recent replacement of a slide.

“All those things are indicating that the equipment is coming to the end of its life,” Kramer said.

He noted the playground serves approximately 950 students per school day and sees significant use by the public after school hours.

Kramer estimates the project will cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars. He said he will know a more fine-tuned number once potential vendors submit proposals. The district will use federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to cover most, if not all, the cost, he said.

To prepare the RFP, district leadership met with students, parents, and staff to get an idea of the type of equipment they would like to see installed in the new playground. Kramer said the students were especially helpful in identifying the parts of the current playground that see the most use.

“We also did a comparison to (the city of London’s) Cowling Park, looking at the type of equipment they have that we don’t have and talking about what we might like to include,” Kramer said.

The tentative timeline for the project is as follows:
• Feb. 2–Deadline for vendors to submit proposals;
• Week of Feb. 5–Notification of contract award;
• June 3–Construction begins;
• July 15–Construction and site restoration complete; and
• Aug. 12–Ribbon cutting.

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