Village gets its playground


By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Urbancrest Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. was full of nerves as he took the phone call.

On the line was a representative with KaBOOM! – a national non-profit organization that helps communities build playgrounds – with news in regard to the village being in contention to receive one of 10 playground builds throughout the country this summer.

Admittedly, the anticipation of the reveal had the mayor’s stomach in knots.

“I knew how much receiving this playground would mean for the community,” he said.

As the conversation stretched on, the bundle of nerves morphed into a bundle of cautious optimism. Then came the announcement he had been hoping to hear:
‘The village of Urbancrest has been selected to receive a new playground.’

“I was so excited when they told me that it took me five minutes to get back to the phone because I was cheering so much,” Barnes said.

The mayor said he feels he can speak for the community when he says their selection to receive a new and inclusive playground is monumental for the village.

“I believe it will really make a difference in all of our lives.”

He added that the news couldn’t have come at a better time.

For the past several months, village officials have been discussing the need for a new playground at Martin Luther King Park.

According to village councilwoman Alicia Wiggins, the equipment has been worn down, creating a potential safety risk for the children who use it for play.

Additionally, Wiggins said the current playground is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act since those who use wheelchairs cannot safely navigate the grounds or play on the equipment.

The Urbancrest Community Improvement Corporation had said they would fund a new playground, but put a temporary hold on that proposal once KaBOOM! showed interest in a playground build on that site.

Now that the KaBOOM! playground build is official, members of the UCIC said they would discuss funding a different project in the future.

According to Barnes, the playground prepping and build begins in July.

On July 14, volunteers will come to Martin Luther King Park and remove the existing playground. On July 26, volunteers will come back to the site and prep the area for construction. On July 28, hundreds of volunteers will descend on the site at 7:30 a.m. and help build what village officials believe will be one of the biggest and finest playgrounds in the area.

Barnes said though they do have some volunteers signed up for the event, they need many more to help complete the one-day playground build project.

He said volunteers can sign up by contacting the village office at 614-875-1279. He requested people leave their name, phone number and the date of when they are interested in volunteering on the answering machine should no one be around to answer the phone when prospective volunteers call. Food and drink will be available, he added, for playground build volunteers.

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