Playground Design Day is April 14

By Nicholas Elmes -

Local children and parents will have a chance to shape the future of children’s recreation in King next week as Make a Difference In King and Play by Design host a Design Day at area schools for a community funded, designed and built playground planned for Recreation Acres.

Ashley Turner, who is spearheading the project, said Play by Design is sending a professional playground designer to work with area students to design a unique playground around the children’s ideas and dreams for the King community.

The day will kick off at King Elementary School Thursday morning where the designer will give a brief presentation about the project and meet with students, parents and community leaders to find out what the King community wants in a playground.

The designer will then move to Mount Olive Elementary School for the afternoon where she will start work on preliminary designs for the proposed playground.

“We are going to have some middle school and high school students walking over to participate in that,” said Turner, noting that she wanted as much input from the public as to what the playground should look like as possible. “The designer will go through all of the student’s ideas and pull out the ones she sees that have a lot of similarity.”

The day will culminate in a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Chestnut Grove Middle School Thursday night where the designer will unveil her final proposed design for the playground.

“We will have all of the student’s drawings on the walls there for the community to see,” said Turner. “We will also have sign up sheets for people from the community to sign up to be part of the fundraising and building phases of this project. It is a great chance for the community to learn more about it and be a part of this from the beginning.”

She said the group hopes to design a playground with a $300,000 budget, all of which will be raised from the local community.

“The city is not funding this,” she said, adding that the city was in support of the project idea. “This is being funded completely through the community. We already have a lot of highly interested people in the community who have offered to step up and help with donations and grants once we get the design.”

Turner said a couple of weeks after the Design Day, Play by Design would send Make a Difference in King full color designs and schematics for the community’s playground design with a complete materials list.

“From there we can start raising money and seeking donations of materials from the community,” said Turner. “We will have a variety of different donation levels for people to participate in.”

She said the plan is to enlist community volunteers to build the playground in early September.

Exact location of playground still undecided

Initial plans for the proposed playground, approved by the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, had called for it to be located in Recreation Acres near the Senior Center, but the King City Council on Monday tabled final approval of that location until they could get a recommendation from the Play by Design designer.

Several council members expressed concerns over having enough parking and safety at the proposed site and discussed other locations in Recreation Acres that may work better.

Turner noted that all Play by Design playgrounds have fencing barriers around the entire play space and that the initial proposed site had room for additional parking to be constructed.

Although the council did not give final approval to the proposed location, they said they fully supported the project and just wanted to make sure it was located in the best part of Recreation Acres possible. They noted they wanted the final location to have high visibility, provide safety for children and against vandalism, and be in an area where there was plenty of parking available.

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes