City makes way for a newer, better Kidsville playground
A sentimental favorite among parents and children past and present, Kidsville playground is no more. At least for now.
Last week, the city announcement was posted on its Facebook page: “Kidsville, located at Seth West Parrott Park, was torn down today. This unique playground served the community well for 24 years. In April of 2018, the structure was closed due to extensive maintenance issues and safety concerns. All sponsor signage and name pickets were removed prior to demolition.
“We are now preparing for the construction of Kidsville 2.0. Construction is scheduled to begin later this spring. Stay tuned for information on how you can be a part of the new playground, which will have a similar look and feel to the original.”
Kidsville playground was 24 years old, four years older than its intended life expectancy, according to city documents provided in response to a New Bern Post Freedom of Information Act request.
According to a report from Playgrounds by Leathers, “The original materials used in the playground were pressure treated wood posts and framing. The original wood was treated with CCA. It is apparent from its condition that this playground is a well-used attraction in the area. There is a strong emotional connection with the community and the playground.”
According to audits by Leathers in 2018 and a risk assessment of the playground conducted in 2015, the condition of the park had degraded to the point where some safety hazards were severe.
I can attest. I hit my head hard several years ago climbing on the structure while playing with my son. It nearly knocked me out. I was lucky. In April 2018, a man lost his finger when his ring was caught in an opening and he lost his balance. The city closed the park three days after learning of that incident.
Leathers said, “Due the structures age and condition, we have provided an estimated cost to replace the playground with a new design utilizing all of today’s latest materials (no wood). Today’s playgrounds are expected to last minimally 30 years with minimal maintenance needs. A custom designed community built replacement estimate is around $250,000-275,000 for a playground with similar square footage as your existing playground. This includes engineered wood fiber as the ground cover. If poured in place rubber is wanted in the tot lot as currently designed, this cost will be determined upon final design. This cost estimate is based on utilizing our community built model. It’s anticipated that the work can be completed in five (5) days. While a renovation is an option, consideration should be given to the total amount budgeted vs. the expected longevity of each option. Also, yearly maintenance cost and needs for upkeep must be kept in mind.”
The replacement estimate did not include demolition.
The cost to renovate the park was put at $200,000. The cost to build anew with modern materials and safety features, plus an expected 30-year lifespan, is $250,000, City Parks and Recreation Director Foster Hughes said in an early report to the Board of Aldermen.
A social media survey conducted by the city resulted in 2,700 votes, 86 percent of which preferred something similar to Kidsville as a replacement, rather than more conventional playground designs found elsewhere in the city and county.