Playground project swings toward reality

Council reviews $48,000 plan

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

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ST. ALBANS CITY — Houghton Park could have a new $48,000 playground if all goes well.

The park was one of several planning initiatives discussed by the city council Monday night.

The city has $20,000 remaining in funds previously approved for upgrades to the park located off of Houghton Street on the city’s east side. In addition, there has been a $1,000 donation and in-kind donations, giving the St. Albans City $24,000 in total, explained recreation director Kelly Viens.

The council approved an application to the Land and Water Conservation fund for matching federal funds. “The current playground was funded by this very program,” said Chip Sawyer, the city’s director of planning and development.

The design includes multiple pieces of climbing equipment and three slides, one of which is called the bump and glide, and comes with a 15-year warranty.

“This has a lot features that appeal to kids of all ages,” said Viens and is intended for use by kids up to 12 years of age. Older and younger may play on the same pieces of equipment differently, she explained.

Houghton Park is divided into two sections for different ages. That division will go away. Some of the input the Parks Commission, which has approved the design, received from parents was that it could be difficult to keep an eye on children playing in two separate areas, explained Viens.

The new design would move the playground farther rom the road. There also will be a more open, grassy area in which children may run. “It’ll create an atmosphere with a lot more free, kind of natural play,” said Viens. “It’ll be a great improvement

There will still be a 50- to 60-foot-long fence separating the playground area from the road, said Veins.

Some of the existing equipment is no longer usable, but the pieces that are salvageable will either be incorporated into the new design for Houghton or relocated to the Barlow Street park or the city pool, according to Viens.

Before finalizing the plans, the parks commission and recreation staff heard from a wide range of people. “We’ve definitely heard from the residents in the area,” said Viens. “We heard from parents who use the park.”

The council approved the grant application with one abstention. Ward 6 representative Chad Spooner who lives near the park abstained, saying the project could raise the value of his property.