East Ridge officials met with the public, Thursday night at City Hall, to answer questions and get input from residents about the proposed revamping of Pioneer Frontier playground.
Amanda Bowers, the city’s Community Involvement Coordinator, told about a dozen residents who attended that the city has acquired a Local Parks & Recreation Fund grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in the amount of $500,000. The city will match that amount in the construction of a new state-of-the-art playground and splash pad built by PlayCore.
Bowers said she hoped the project would be completed by summer. A worse case scenario would be the new park would be available by Spring 2020.
Bowers laid the delay in beginning the project at the feet of state authorities who still must sign off on additional paperwork entailed in the final approval of the project.
Bowers had no timetable for groundbreaking on the $1 million park that replaces the original Pioneer Frontier built in 1994 by members of the community.
She did backtrack on statements made by city officials in March 2018 that volunteers, with supervision by by PlayCore employees, could be used for labor in building the new park. Bowers said the city was under “constraints” by its insurance company for liability reasons not to allow volunteers to do any of the real building.
However, there will be opportunities for volunteers to help in salvaging bricks, palm prints and other personalized items from the original construction that will be re-purposed in the new park. In addition, volunteers could be utilized for landscaping and building a new sign in the park, she said.
“We want community involvement,” Bowers said at the conclusion of the 45-minute meeting.
Bowers said applications for residents to volunteer their efforts in the new park would be available in the near future on the city’s website. She reminded those present that the city is asking for volunteers in other areas as well, in particular in some capacity for the East Ridge History Museum.
Bowers said there is currently a standing committee of citizens helping the city with the park, including Debbie Colbrun, Mimi Lowrey and Gail Phillips, who were integrally involved in the building of the original Pioneer Frontier.
Fred Wiechmann unveiled the latest artist’s rendering of the park which include a rocking wagon, climbing features resembling a butter churn, a “tri-runner” that resembles a controlled-spin carnival ride, and a huge swing that can accommodate three or more kids swinging all together. All of the materials, PlayCore officials said, are high-tech and durable, and all the features of the playground would be accessible to children with special needs and compliant with federal laws.
Wiechmann explained that the pavilion, built with earmarked money courtesy of former Hamilton County Commission Curtis Adams, would remain. The splash pad would be built adjacent to the pavilion near the old McBrien School site. The new park would lie entirely in the footprint of the current park.
There are no plans for new restrooms to be constructed. The existing one’s would be updated, he said.