MARIETTA - It would cost more to repair the Incredible Community Playground than replace it, according to a Cincinnati-based company specializing in playgrounds.
However, the Marietta City school district, which owns the playground located at Phillips Elementary School, is still considering its options. When the facility was built 18 years ago, it was agreed community volunteers would maintain it. More community assistance could alter the cost of a repair project, said Dave Davis, transportation, buildings and grounds manager for the district.
"If the community wants to step up, it's really their playground," he said.
Photo by Ashley Hill
Phillips Elementary School students play at the Incredible Community Playground Monday. A company specializing in playgrounds inspected the facility and indicated it is not worth the money it would take to repair it.
Davis said currently, about one-third of the 18-year-old playground is closed because it's unsafe, due to wood splitting and splinter concerns. Around 12:30 p.m. Monday, children were playing on the entire playground, even the closed area.
Davis said the orange safety fencing around that area is frequently torn down overnight. He said additional fencing is being put up today.
Site Masters Inc., which specializes in playgrounds, inspected the Incredible Community Playground, on Sept. 1. Davis said the study shows that when the playground was built, it was in compliance with safety standards; however, that is no longer the case. The study also found that quite a bit of wood at the playground has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer worth the cost of repairing it.
A phone call made to the company was not returned Monday.
Davis said the company did not provide an estimate of how much it would cost to repair the playground, but the district intends to find that out.
"We're trying to get estimates of what exactly it would cost," he said. "I've got a contact in with a playground company that's supposed to come in and give me an estimate ... I'm waiting on them to call me back."
Once the estimate comes in, Davis said, a decision will have to be made on whether it's worth repairing or if removing the current equipment and replacing it with lower-maintenance equipment is a better idea.
Either way, he said, it's important that the community get involved.
"When they agreed to let the community playground committee build that 18 years ago or so, the board (of education) said, 'We'll let you do it, but keep in mind, we don't have money to put into it,'" he said. "I don't have the personnel or manpower to maintain a structure like that."
Roger Kalter, one of the original volunteers on the project, previously told The Marietta Times that many people use the playground but the number of volunteers willing to help with it are limited.
Tiffany Morrison said her daughter, who is in second grade at Phillips Elementary, has gotten several splinters while playing on the playground.
"It's been there 18 years - I feel they should give the kids a new playground," she said. "The kids deserve it."
Marietta City Schools Board of Education President Greg Gault, who has two children who attend Phillips, said the situation with the playground is really lose-lose.
"It's going to be a tough decision no matter what's done with the playground," he said. "If there's any possibility to repair it, it's going to be a large amount of money. If it has to be torn down, it will be a large amount of money."
Megan Gault, the Phillips' PTO president and Greg Gault's wife, said she's concerned about the safety of the children.
"I believe it's a concern for all parents, but I strongly believe we need to have a playground for the children to play on," she said.
Evan Bevins contributed.