Children naturally like to play.

But the concept for renovations at McKinley Field Park in Grandview Heights would give youngsters an opportunity to incorporate nature into playtime.

The plans developed by the city, working with POD Design landscape architecture firm, propose a new play area between the park's concession stand and shelter house.

"The play area would be unlike anything else we have in the city," parks and recreation director Mike Patterson said.

It would include manufactured elements along with components made using real items from nature, such as logs, boulders and mounds, he said.

"It's somewhat similar to what we did at Wyman Woods but different because the playground at Wyman uses faux-natural components," Patterson said.

Creating natural play areas is a growing trend in the parks and recreation field, he said.

Worthington and Upper Arlington have created nature-themed playgrounds, and Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks also has installed natural playgrounds, Patterson said.

The playground incorporating faux climbing boulders installed in 2014 at Wyman Woods Park is popular with youngsters and their parents, Patterson said.

"The only issues we've heard about is that it's right out in the open, so it can get really hot during the summer," he said. "We'll be able to keep the shade canopy at McKinley for the playground and will be adding a few trees to provide even more shade."

The cost of the playground would be reduced because the parks department already has items, including logs and rocks, available from other city parks that can be incorporated into the McKinley project, Patterson said.

Another element included in the concept is a walking path around the perimeter of McKinley Field.

"It will be a nice feature where parents could take a walk around the park while their children are playing," Mayor Ray DeGraw said

The pathways installed at Wyman Woods and Pierce Field have been well-received and are well-used, Patterson said.

The McKinley renovation also will include an expansion of the concession stand next to the park's ball field, Patterson said.

The concession stand there is rudimentary and does not have running water, he said.

"We're looking to connect a water line to the new building and add some restrooms," Patterson said.

The McKinley renovations will be the last in the series of improvements the city has made to each of its park sites, he said.

The playground and concession-stand projects would be the first two phases of what ultimately would be a multiphase plan to renovate McKinley Field, Patterson said.

Other plans for improvements there -- including potential renovations to the shelter and enhancements heading west to east toward Wallace Community Gardens -- would be finalized and addressed in future phases, he said.

Whereas money will be available in the 2020 capital-improvements budget for some of the McKinley work, the city will plan to get only one, not both, of the playground and concession-stand projects underway next year, DeGraw said.

The preliminary estimated cost of the playground project is around $400,000, with the concession-stand work expected to cost about $250,000, he said.

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