A portion of playground equipment at Miller Park will be off limits for the remainder of the year, after a recent inspection turned up deteriorating equipment.

An unanticipated addition to Miller Park's landscape was added last month, when city officials were forced to shut down playground equipment designed for children 5 and older.

The equipment was closed to the public by temporary fencing June 18, and signs were posted stating that some of the features for older children will be removed as soon as possible.

"I apologize for the short notice, but safety is paramount," a sign at the playground signed by Upper Arlington Parks & Forestry Division Superintendent Steve Cothrel reads. "The department will be putting together a plan to replace the equipment over the coming weeks, but actual replacement of the 16-year-old playground will likely not occur until 2020."

Cothrel said June 28 at least a partial demolition of the older-children section likely would be required.

He said the problems primarily stem from the age of the equipment, noting most playground features are designed to last 15-20 years.

"We inspect our playgrounds regularly," he said. "This one happened pretty suddenly, and we had to take quick action.

"The decks and bridges are steel, coated in rubber. The rubber is cracking and peeling, which allowed the steel to corrode, and the steel has been cracking and breaking."

Cothrel said the city's inspector saw "significant cracking" in some of the playground equipment.

In a "stop-gap measure," he said, portions of the playground will be accessible.

He added that playground features designed for preschool-age children seem to be holding up.

"The younger kids' equipment is a different manufacturer, but also it gets used less enthusiastically," he said.

A posting on the city's website said the playground was inspected in fall 2018 and "there were no signs of issues that would impact the integrity of this equipment."

"Play elements remain that are suitable for toddler-aged children, and the park's swing set is still safe to use," the web posting said. "If you are looking for close alternative playgrounds, Westover Park and Northam Park are great options."

Cothrel said Upper Arlington Parks & Recreation Department staff are looking into the possibility of having new playgrounds for both preschool and older children installed at Miller Park next spring or summer.

But because the project wasn't foreseen last fall, it wasn't included in the department's plans for 2020.

If the project is recommended to Upper Arlington City Council later this year and approved for 2020, it likely would be done in addition to a project already being planned to replace the playground at Reed Road, which is located next to the Upper Arlington Fire Division's Station 72, 3861 Reed Road.

Cothrel said the city plans to hold public meetings to gain feedback from residents about how to rebuild the Reed Road Park playground, but that project is estimated to cost about $225,000.

"Miller Park will be more because it's (playground) is considerably larger," he said.

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