SHAFTSBURY >> The town is making big changes at the playgrounds at Howard Park and Cleveland Park, in order to make them safer for children.
Town administrator David Kiernan circulated a report at the board's July 5 meeting, which said that, for insurance reasons, several pieces of equipment would need to be removed from the two parks, and that fall protection zones would need to be installed at both locations. The playground equipment that was targeted for removal included the old slide and swinging bench at Cleveland Park. Most of the rest is just tightening of nuts and bolts, said Kiernan, except for the swingset at Howard Park, which will either have to be re-done or replaced.
On Monday, Kiernan reported that all of the equipment the insurance company requested be removed has been removed, and the remaining equipment at Cleveland Park has also been removed temporarily, until the fall protection zone can be installed.
The fall protection zone will be created by digging down 12 to 16 inches, placing fabric at the bottom, and filling in the rest with wood fiber, so that it is level with the surrounding ground. Kiernan is currently soliciting bids for that project.
At Howard Park, Kiernan said, "The insurance recommendation was to do the same kind of fall protection for the two pieces of playground equipment there. They also consider our abandoned pond 'an attractive nuisance,' as they put it, because it's so close to the playground." He said that he has discussed with the town's Recreation Committee moving those two playground pieces to a spot near the pavilion and baseball field. He said that plan would involve expanding the footprint of the playground, so that they can add new equipment in the future. He said that the new footprint of Cleveland Park is also designed to leave from for future improvements.
Based on estimates, Kiernan said the wood fiber alone for both projects would probably cost about $7,500, and that the digging would likely be done by the road crew.
The town will also be re-installing a water fountain at Howard Park, after the old fountains were vandalized. Kiernan said the new fountain would cost about $2,500, plus a couple hundred for installation. He said it would be more substantial than the old ones, and there would also be a camera pointed at it, to capture video of any vandals. "If you go it at, we're going to go at you," warned Kiernan.
Chairman Tim Scoggins suggested that a determined vandal could still damage a $2,500 fountain, and a cheaper fountain may be easier to replace should it become targeted. Kiernan said he would bring the different options for fountains before the select board at their next meeting.
The Shaftsbury Recreation Committee will meet this Friday at 10 a.m. at Cole Hall on Buck Hill Road. Their meetings are open to the public.
The Shaftsbury Select Board meets the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Cole Hall. Full recordings of their meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.