Bexley News

Montrose reaches goal, work to start on new playground

Excavation is set to begin Tuesday on two play spaces at elementary

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It is official. Both sides of the Montrose Elementary School playground will be renovated over the next three months.

But because of the construction, the playground will be closed for the summer and off-limits to children until the renovations are complete.

The playground's make-over began this week, with the entire area -- including the softball diamond and the Terry Black Outdoor Learning Center -- being closed to the public.

The city of Bexley plans to start excavation of the dirt surface Tuesday, June 17.

The project will proceed all at one time rather than in phases, due to a last-minute fundraising push that raised needed dollars to meet the goal amount set by the volunteer committee, district officials announced.

According to Montrose Principal Quint Gage, that means both sides of the playground will be closed this summer as the work is completed.

"The whole project is for the kids," said John Eikenberry, the Bexley City School District's business manager, "and we do not want any of our stakeholders injured during the process of building fun stuff for them."

The Bexley Board of Education approved the plan for the playground project in April. Although the district is not paying for the project, it reserves the right to approve all construction on its property. The district also will be responsible for maintenance of the playground once it is complete, and is liable for safety during student play on the equipment.

Traditionally, most districts build playgrounds when a school is erected, but the replacement of those structures usually falls on the backs of parents through fundraising efforts.

The Montrose playground initiative first got off the ground two and a half years ago when another parent, Kevin Brashear, spearheaded the venture. Meagan Matteson joined the effort about a year ago and is now leading the charge.

The playground renovation comes at a cost of $130,520. The project's total price tag includes a savings of $35,000, Matteson pointed out, because of a community build Bexley's school board members approved this spring.

Last-minute efforts to raise the funds included Monty Moose's 5K Run for the Montrose Playground, which raised slightly more than $3,000. A Mayor's Backyard BBQ on May 18 netted another $12,000.

Any additional funds raised at this point would go toward landscaping and items that were overlooked in the original plan, such as additional concrete and safety barriers.

The volunteer committee working on the playground continues to meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Montrose library.

Committee members are asking for community volunteers to help out with the community build planned for July 10-14.

The group hopes the renovations will be complete for the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

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