The oldest park playground equipment in Upper Arlington will be replaced after the project received the unanimous approval of City Council.

According to city officials, playgrounds generally are designed to have a service life of two decades or less. By that standard, they say, Westover Park -- which is more than 17 years old -- is due for an upgrade.

After a June 28 public meeting, as well as opportunities the city has provided for residents to offer feedback online, in person and via telephone, a plan for a new Westover playground was presented and unanimously approved by Upper Arlington City Council.

Playword Midstates Inc. in New Albany will receive an approximately $165,000 contract to install a new playground this fall.

"The contract will include removal of the existing playground equipment and surfacing and installation of the new playground equipment and surfacing," Upper Arlington Parks and Forestry Superintendent Steve Cothrel said. "Some additional work removing hidden foundations and remains from a previous generation of play equipment may also be necessary, and additional connectivity is under evaluation."

Cothrel said the contract calls for most of the playground surface to "poured-in-place rubberized surfacing" and for a smaller portion to be playground mulch.

However, he said, the city staff will work with the company "on a potential change order to install the rubberized surface on the entire playground for consistent safety surface and (to) reduce the annual cost to replenish mulch."

Cothrel said Westover's playground equipment is the oldest in the city's parks.

A slideshow of photos provided to council Sept. 18 showed existing equipment is rusted in areas. In additon, plastic and rubberized surfaces that were intended to provide greater safety for playground users is cracking.

"Recent inspections conducted by ourstaff that are certified playground safety inspectors indicate equipment conditions warrant replacement before the unit becomes a safety risk for park users," Cothrel said. "The certified playground safety inspectors program is endorsed as best practice by the National Recreation and Parks Association and followed by our department as our standard."

Features at the new playground will include "motion-play" equipment, "ample" swings, fencing on the east side of the playground to help keep small children within the playground and a park area and rubber surfacing to better protect those who fall.

Cothrel said the new equipment will have play features designed to serve a range of ages, and it will be designed to fit in with the character of historic homes neighboring the park.

Although some residents shared concerns with council about how the new equipment might take shape, Kensington Drive resident Heather Dyarmett said Sept. 24 neighbors are happy with final plans for the project.

"We're very pleased with the proposal," Dyarmett said.

She said neighbors now just want to make sure city officials stick to promises to reinstall sidewalks leading to the park that would be disturbed by the project and asked that they consider future landscaping to increase its overall aesthetics.

"It's a beautiful greenspace and a lot of people come to the park," she said.

Councilman Jim Lynch said his concerns about the project were allayed after receiving assurances the new playground will include rubberized flooring. Council President Kip Greenhill said he thinks the project has the potential to provide a significant upgrade.

Greenhill said it should unfold similarly to the new playground that was unveiled in July 2017 at Northam Park, which included a number of new climbing and play features and has received a high volume of users since its construction.

The Northam project, which included the construction of a reading garden outside the Upper Arlington Public Library's main branch at 2800 Tremont Road, was built for approximately $1.4 million.

Cothrel said the existing Westover playground is expected to be removed in early November.

"The scheduled start date for demolition is Nov. 5," he said. "I expect the entire project to take several weeks, but we do not yet have a target completion date.

"The playground will be out of commission during that period of time, but Miller and Northam parks offer nearby alternatives," he said.

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