By Dedra Cordle
More improvements are coming to the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA.
At the Feb. 4 meeting, the Urbancrest village council unanimously approved a request from the YMCA to expand and beautify the outdoor space adjacent to the indoor swimming pool. This area has been used as seating space during the summer and is the current site of the community garden.
According to the YMCA, upgrades are needed to fulfill state licensing standards and federal requirements in order to be in compliance as a location for the Head Start program.
The plans are to expand the community garden, transform the open space into a children’s playground (typically between the ages 3-5), and improve upon existing issues.
The playground attractions – which will be created by Urban Wild, Ltd – include a water play area, motor skill building space, an art area, a sand area, a modular garden maze and a nature exploration area.
Rick Van Gundy, the owner of Inspirations Landscapes and collaborator with Urban Wild, Ltd, said it would be a beautiful addition to the village.
The cost of the improvements will be covered by the Head Start program and a grant from PNC. Van Gundy said construction would begin as soon as the weather allows.
Council also accepted Van Gundy’s request to remove four ash trees at this location as they have fallen victim to the emerald ash borer. Van Gundy said the village would not have to pay for the removal of the trees, nor would they have to haul it away. He added that the wood from the ash tree would be used in the construction of the playground and as an attraction in the play areas.
Council members briefly discussed the removal of additional ash trees in the village and inquired as to how much it might cost to remove them and plant different trees. Councilman Kenneth Skeaton said it was something they would keep in mind for the future.
“We’ve got to take care of our trees,” he said.