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Published: Wednesday, 1/5/2005

Grand Rapids: Playground design talks to address concerns

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Grand Rapids Village Council plans to consider a proposal later this month for the design of playground equipment to be installed at Howard Park.

Last year, the village received a $17,500 grant from the Wood County Park District and a $1,000 grant from the Wood County Solid Waste Management District for playground equipment at the park, which is downtown next to Village Hall.

A council committee has been working for several months with a playground designer to create plans for Howard Park.

The committee presented a design proposal to council last month that calls for several separate pieces of playground equipment, including swing sets and climbing equipment. The designs show the playground equipment in muted colors of green, brown, and maroon.

"It's going to be in our historical district, so we didn't want the bright colors," Councilman Louise Estep, chairman of the committee, said.

Mayor Judy Keifer said she had some concerns about the proposal and plans to schedule a meeting later this month so all the council members can discuss it.

"I personally didn't think the proposal would use the money to its fullest extent," she said. "I just want to make sure we spend the money wisely."

Mayor Keifer said installing individual pieces of equipment would take up a lot of space at the park because each piece would require a buffer area of empty space for safety reasons. Instead, she suggested buying equipment that would join to form a single interlocking playground. "You could have more kids playing on it at one time," she said.

Ms. Estep said the committee feels the proposal would provide enough play space at Howard Park, especially because the village plans to build a more extensive playground at Labino Park in the next few years.

She said that no matter what council decides, it is important to make sure the playground equipment at Howard Park is replaced, because the existing equipment dates back to 1960s.

"It's metal equipment that isn't safe anymore," she said.



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