Columbus was one of the 25 cities in the nation to receive a "Meet Me in the Park" grant awarded by the National Recreation and Parks Association and funded by the Walt Disney Co.

The $30,000 will be used to create an innovative playground at Carriage Place Park, 4900 Sawmill Road, "that mimics varied play opportunities naturally found in forests and meadows," according to the announcement from the Recreation and Parks Department.

"It will be safe and accessible in order to provide an experience that is inclusive of all visitors, and will adhere to effective natural play design principles and contain elements such as logs, boulders and native plants," according to the announcement from Brian J. Hoyt, the department's communications and marketing manager.

The new playground space will be adjacent to the existing Carriage Place Park playground. It will be a typical playground size of about 50 by 70 feet within the 13.05-acre park, the announcement indicated.

"(The) intent is to have this be a pilot project where we can study the design of future playgrounds," Hoyt wrote.

"I think it's great," said Kit Logsdon, chairwoman of the recreation and parks committee for the Northwest Civic Association. "I'm very pleased with being a test case, I guess you could say.

"It will be interesting to see how it works out. For Walt Disney to pick us and use this particular park as a pilot program, it kind of gives me hope that we're not just a forgotten little neighborhood park."

The three pillars of the parks and recreation profession are health and wellness, conservation and social equity, and a project like this embodies all three, Recreation and Parks Director Tony Collins said in a statement.

"We are grateful to the National Recreation and Parks Association and the Disney Co. for supporting the city of Columbus," he said.

"Grants such as these help us provide more resources for our neighborhoods and help stretch the taxpayers' dollars."

The playground will show kids and adults they don't need some piece of metal or plastic to have a playground, Carriage Place Community Center Manager Kelly Hoffman said in a statement.

"You can actually use the works of Mother Nature and have a great time while playing and getting exercise," Hoffman said.

The construction contract for the playground is already out for bid, and construction should begin in early September, according to Hoyt.

"The project, per the grant, is to be completed by Nov. 1, and that is our target date, as well," Hoyt wrote in an email.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recreation and conservation, according to its website.

"NRPA is proud to collaborate with The Walt Disney Company to help more children and families experience the benefits of play," Kellie May, director of health and wellness, was quoted as saying in the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department announcement.

"By increasing access to play spaces, this program will also provide unique activities tailored to the local community that support healthy lifestyles," May said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1