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Panel look at needs of parks, playgrounds

September 8, 2010
Warren’s Parks and Recreation Commission has completed an assessment of the city’s parks and playgrounds and compiled a list of needs. Karen Coombs, Warren General Hospital director of community relations, filled out a grant application with GameTime, a commercial playground manufacturer, for new equipment at Crescent Park. The total cost is estimated to be $41,000 to $42,000 and the hope is to have half of the cost matched by Lowe’s. The commission is also looking into the Christopher Reeve Foundation to help fund an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant safety surface. In addition to a new site plan, the park is looking to add a bicycle rack and remove the bleachers, which are not compliant with the American Society for Testing and Materials standards. The playground at Betts Park is lacking play equipment for five- to 12-year-olds and also needs new swings. Assistant City Manager Mary Ann Nau said that from September 2010 to September 2011, there will be an accessibility audit that will lead to an ADA compliant ramp being included for the 2011 budget. Bleachers were recently retrofitted and the concession stand and restrooms were painted. The playground at Beaty Park is lacking equipment for two- to five-year-olds and is also in need of a bike rack near the restrooms. The tennis courts needs to be resurfaced and the commission is hoping to receive funds to maintain them. DeFrees Park is in need of a new safety surface as well as age appropriate signage, a double grill and a bike rack. “We have the list of what needs to be done, but we now need to figure out how to pay for it,” said Commission Chairman Dennis Crandall. The list of park needs will soon be submitted to the city’s Public Works Department for review. The novelty of the Warren Skate Park at Beaty field has not worn off as the park is being consistently used, according to commission members. In order to maintain the site and promote usage even further, the commission is forming a stewardship committee consisting of local skating enthusiasts that will act as a liaison between skaters, bikers and rollerbladers and the commission. Out of the ten people invited to participate in the committee, only two attended Tuesday night’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Skating lessons and programs may be offered as part of the summer parks program to keep participation numbers growing. “The (city) council will set up a usage study after the first two years, but at this point there is no scientific method to collect that data,” Nau explained. As of now, nighttime usage is determined by the amount of money collected from the coin-operated lighting system. Issues such as the gravel that is lining the park entering the skating surface and limited parking were briefly discussed and the commission hopes for input from the stewardship committee. “Issues like parking are actually good problems,” said Crandall. “We can solve that.” Vice Chairman Nancy Rossman proposed a dog park in Warren that would be completely fenced in so that the animals can run free. She mentioned that many people take their dogs to Betts Park, but there is no place that has borders on all sides. The difficult task will be location as there are seemingly prime areas that are either prone to flooding or are committed to future projects. The commission will research the cost and size of such a dog park to gauge feasibility.


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