New Playground Will Fix Accessibility, Surface Issues
COLUMBIA - A playground being updated in Columbia has parents and park officials excited over its new design and increased safety.
Tano Mateu and his 5-year-old daughter Lucy go to parks at least once a week. They live in New Franklin, but come to Columbia and Boonville parks all the time. Mateu said once the Steinberg Playground in Cosmo Park is finished, he and his daughter will come even more.
"She loves parks," Mateu said about his daughter. "And I think this is a great park."
As Lucy runs around, slides down the slides and climbs on the playground equipment, a sign sits nearby with a plan of what the new park will look like this summer.
An obvious change in the park will be its appearance. With the "Steinberg Time Machine" concept, there will be equipment with both a prehistoric theme and equipment with a futuristic theme. Senior Park Planner Matt Boehner said, while the city is excited about the visual changes, there are also a few new noteworthy safety and accessibility features.
"A lot of the biggest changes are going to be ADA accessible changes," Boehner said. "Finding better access for people with disablities and mobility issues throughout the entire playground."
Boehner said the city will also replace the fall surface, which is the material used on the grounds, currently mulch.
"After years, it decomposes," Boehner said. "So what we try to do is replace it with shredded rubber, poured in place [rubber] or even tile surfacing."
The poured in place rubber is the best option for wheelchair movement, he said.
Another big consideration is visibility to parents.
"The parents want to be able to see the kids play," Boehner said.
Since Steinberg is nearly an acre and a half, he said the city is considering vegetation and seating areas so parents can easily watch kids.
Mateu said, as a parent, safety is 100% important.
"You don't want your child to be at risk," Mateu said. "So anything that is good for safety and your children being in a park, and a good park, that's very important."
The city is renovating the park because of the lack of availability of replacement equipment. When a playground is built, the park is required to maintain it with regard to the safety standards at that time. As years pass, parks replace parts of playground equipment that break or fail in some way, but they still only have to maintain the original safety standards. In Steinberg's case, the equipment thus far has had to meet the standards of 1997.
Boehner said the manufacturer of the equipment makes sure it follows standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). But he said the manufacturer stopped making the replacement parts, and that's the issue.
"Once those replacement parts aren't available to us, we have no choice but to take out the equipment and replace it," Boehner said. The new equipment will meet current ASTM standards.
Mateu and his daughter are excited for the change. He said, "I see they are taking care of it and that makes us happy."