(Posted Aug. 2, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
New ways to swing, slide, climb and glide are coming to Garrette Park this fall.
The village of West Jefferson has ordered all new playground equipment as part of an overhaul of the park that will cost between $500,000 and $550,000. The project also includes construction of a 20×36-foot open-sided shelter house.
“We have been discussing how all of our parks need upgrades,” said John Mitchell, West Jefferson’s public service director. “We decided to start with Garrette Park since we just purchased it, it’s in the center of town, and it’s in the worst shape as far as play equipment and amenities.”
The village purchased the park land from Jefferson Local Schools in December 2018. The purchase encompassed a total of 5.4 acres, including land at the corner of Frey and Fellows avenues, formerly home to Frey Elementary School.
“We’ve already removed the old play equipment and excavated and prepared the ground,” Mitchell said. “The upgrades are way overdue. We’re starting from scratch.”
The playground will feature one cluster of equipment geared toward children ages 2 to 5 years old, another cluster for children ages 5 to 12 years old, and several freestanding pieces of play equipment.
The area for the 2- to 5-year-olds includes equipment that is accessible to children of all abilities. One example is the “sway fun,” a glider with room for two wheelchairs, benches for other passengers, and a playtable with cupholders. Nearby are the freestanding “omnispin spinner” and “we-saw.” The spinner is a merry-go-round of sorts featuring molded seating; children sit inside while others push from outside to make the apparatus spin. The we-saw is a four-person, wheelchair accessible seesaw.
The equipment for the younger children also includes several climbing options, a small double slide, and two items that are all about making sound–a rain sound wheel panel and a bongo drums panel.
The equipment for the 5- to 12-year-olds includes three kinds of slides, six climbing options, a circular horizontal ladder, and a “swiggleknots bridge” that requires kids to make their way across a short expanse using ropes, disc footpads, and suspended ball knots. The ring-a-bell panel lets children make music.
A gravity rail is one of the other freestanding components. A swing glides along a tubular course, producing an experience that combines the feeling of ziplining with riding a rollercoaster.
The playground also will include a six-swing swingset (two of the swings feature molded seats with harnesses) and a “curva spinner,” a small piece of equipment that lets children have fun with centrifugal force.
Most of the playground equipment will arrive by Sept. 10. Installation will take one to two weeks. The gravity rail likely will arrive in October.
“Hopefully, everything will be in place before the snow flies,” Mitchell said.
The village secured a $200,000 state capital grant to help pay for the project. The rest of the funding will come from the village’s park fund and general fund.
The costs are: roughly $200,000 for the playground equipment; $145,500 for installation of the equipment, including rubber surfacing underneath and a concrete surround; $50,000 for the shelter house; and $100,000 to $150,000 for installation of a sidewalk, asphalt, excavation, removal of old equipment and concrete, and other site prep work, and small amenities.
The village is purchasing most of the playground equipment through Landscape Structures, the same contractor the city of London used for its new playground equipment at Cowling Park. The manufacturer is Penchura.
The village is purchasing the gravity rail through Playground Equipment Services. The manufacturer is Miracle Recreation.