After a robust discussion at its May 6 meeting, the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Commission’s vision on the Mercerdale Park playground renovation project design has become clearer.
Following a presentation from city staff members on two options, the commission leaned toward the second one that features the playground’s signature train, a 60-inch platform height, an approximately eight-foot-high climbable cone spinner, smaller cup and pole spinners, slides, five platforms, swings, seats and enclosed play spaces. ADA-accessible activities are included in the design.
On the cone spinner, Jason Kintner, Public Works chief of operations, said: “This is a piece that allows kids of all abilities to actually play together. It spins while you climb. At the same time, it’s actually got two platforms for kids to sit and play and climb on. It’s a really unique feature.”
City Capital Projects Manager Paul West noted that the two smaller spinners are crucial for inclusivity and challenge children to work their way up to the main attraction, the cone spinner.
The price tag on the second option is $755,000. Option one is priced at $774,000 and includes a 72-inch platform height, an eight-foot-high slide, six platforms and all of the same features in option two — minus the spinners. ADA-accessible activities are also included in the design.
City staff and the Let Kids Play! consultant found positives in both options, but favored option two because it is a bit more diverse on the social play front and offers additional challenges in the spinning realm.
West said that the enclosed play spaces, which are featured in both options, are standout spots in the design.
“Those are important places for children who are shy or have sensory processing issues that they can take refuge in those areas and still look out and be part of the play,” he said. “Participating visually, participating as an observer, but being able to take a break. That can be an important thing for all kids to be able to do.”
Also at the meeting, the commission leaned toward having a mixed safety playground surface of pour-in-place resilient rubber under the swings and in other high-wear areas and synthetic play grass under the climbing structure. As for color scheme, the commission was split on natural hues with brightness or with pops of color. None of the commission members voted to include an accessible whirl feature in the design.
The playground is currently closed since the play equipment has reached the end of its useful life after 19 years, and city crews removed the equipment, except the swings, on May 8.
According to a previous Reporter story, the city shuttered the 5,000-square-foot play area in January due to safety concerns and persistent standing water from clogged drainage by decomposing wood chips. New equipment, drainage and a play surface are on the renovation docket, and the city council has chosen to fund the playground replacement in its 2021-22 Biennial Budget. The budget calls for $490,000 to be spent on the project, and Kintner said that there may be some private contributions coming their way.
The next step will be taking the design before city council for an appropriations request at its May 18 meeting. The city hopes to have the playground renovated and ready for use by the end of this summer.
For more information, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/mercerdale-playground