Pickerington City Council's Safety Committee is revisiting the legality of installing playground equipment in Colony Park.
The decision to do so hinges on the definition of a "tot lot."
Colony Park is a 5.8-acre swath of open green space in the Colony Park subdivision off Long Road.
The city of Pickerington has $16,000 worth of playground equipment, purchased with money generated from developer impact fees, that park officials think will be ideal for the park as well as fit in with the city's Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
The problem is the original developer of the land, William Fannin Builders Inc. placed a restriction in its deed to the city mandating the parkland remain "passive space" only.
The only exceptions to the restriction are benches, picnic areas or tot lots.
City officials appeared resigned to the fact that it would not be able to have a playground in Colony Park last month after discussing the matter at the January Safety Committee meeting, however, they had a change of heart after City Law Director Phil Hartmann reviewed the definition of a "tot lot" and determined the equipment, called "Playbooster" and geared to ages 5 to 12, fit the definition.
City Parks and Recreation Director Becca Medinger provided numerous authoritative sources that have varying definitions of tot lots. Most all of them defined a tot lot as a small playground for young children.
On Feb. 20, Safety Committee Chairperson Mike Sabatino said the city should go forward with the Law Director's recommendation.
Safety Committee member Jeff Fix still had reservations, suggesting the city find out "the intent of the person who originally donated the land."
"If the intent was to be left open (space), then we should respect that," Fox said.
"Language in the deed does say 'tot lot' was permitted," said Sabatino, adding Hartmann regarded the use as "appropriate."
City Manager Bill Vance said the city had not contacted William Fannin to inquire whether the grantor was opposed to the playground.
He recommended "there be some type of communication before we go to the expense" of placing the equipment in Colony Park, including "educating the public" and determining if those in the Colony Park neighborhood want a playground there.
Committee members agreed to both talk to Fannin as well as to the adjacent property owners.
Sabatino said the matter will be left on the agenda for consideration at the March 20 Safety Committee meeting.