SEARCY Over the past few months, Searcy Parks and Recreation has been working to replace dated playground equipment at Spring Park with new equipment for children to enjoy.
Mike Parsons, director of Searcy Parks and Recreation, said the previous playground equipment was less than desirable.
“Bridges going from section to section were getting holes; slides were deteriorating,” he said.
The new park officially opened Wednesday.
“We applied for a 50/50 grant through Arkansas Parks and Tourism, and the new equipment has slides just like the last one, a giant dragonfly teeter-totter, swings and even two generational swings on which a parent or grandparent can swing with the child at the same time,” Parsons said.
The total cost of the 3,400-square-foot playground improvements was $122,750, he said, but the Arkansas Parks and Tourism grant allowed the city of Searcy to pay only half of that.
“The park is located right next to the library and gets used a lot. That playground will be one of our most popular in town when it’s done, due to its location by the library,” he said.
Steve Jackson, maintenance supervisor for Searcy Parks and Recreation, said members of the community have been anxious to try out the new playground.
“We poured a concrete pad to put the playground on top of,” Jackson said. “This way we don’t have to dig holes in the ground to put poles into; then our company (No Fault) put a soft surface on it — like a nice big carpet, except it’s rubber and protects children a lot better than the wood shavings we used before.”
Slides, swings, climbing equipment, several platforms and stairs are included in the new playground, he said.
“There’s a log that looks like a big tree, and kids can climb on the limbs of it,” he said.
The old playground was in need of improvement, and wood shavings were constantly having to be repacked onto the surface to soften falls, he said.
“[The wood shavings] would wash away in the rain, and kids would get [them] in their shoes and clothes. After a while, you’d have to put some more in. [They] would somehow disappear,” he said.
“With the new playground surface, it stays like it is — a soft rubber surface, about 3 inches thick, that sort of acts like a mattress. The shavings are gone.”
Parsons said getting rid of the shavings will also save the city money over time, since the shavings won’t need to be replaced anymore.
Jackson said the new playground is much nicer than it was before, and all of the playgrounds in Searcy are included in the 50/50 grant.
“Right now, [community members] are dying to get on it. We’re working there every day, and they’re just constantly coming up. A lot of people like to use playgrounds, and every time we put a new one in, they really enjoy it,” he said.
Aside from playground equipment, the park also has a sidewalk wrapped around the park that parents can walk on while their children play, Jackson said.
“We’re in the process of putting up Christmas lights this week, and when we get that finished, we’ll be putting in the [artificial] skating rink. Last year was the first year we did it, and it was a big hit,” he said.
Parsons said lights will be installed at the playground, and the rink will be open around Nov. 21.
“This time, when people are waiting to get on the ice, they can go play on the playground while they wait,” he said.
“I think the park will have a huge impact on the community because it’s right in the middle of some neighborhoods, so people will be able to walk to the park. People have been looking forward to getting on the new [playground]. They’ve waited a long time, and they won’t be disappointed.”
Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or email@example.com.