NORTH ROYALTON – A proposal for the new Memorial Park playground is currently being reviewed by city councilmen and rec board members. Most agree it looks very promising.

The proposal comes from Snider and Associates, a family-owned business located right in North Royalton. Snider sells and installs playground and sports equipment all over the Midwest and is a state of Ohio approved contract vendor.

In addition to the old library being transformed into the new city hall, the city has been working on a plan of attack to upgrade and renovate Memorial Park as well. Officials have been meeting with the criteria architect Brandstetter Carroll and the rec board, as well as the local early childhood PTA to formulate an idea for the playground, the park’s focal point.

A modern, ADA-accessible playground is being adapted that will be located much closer to the parking lot. The existing, wooden structure will remain intact, however parts that are deteriorated or unsafe will be removed.

The project currently has a budget of approximately $150,000. Brandstetter Carroll put together specifications for the project recently, and Snider submitted a proposal.

Community Development Director Tom Jordan tweaked that proposal and met with Mayor Bob Stefanik and Rec Director Jason Swim on May 8 to discuss it in depth.

Officials were trying to determine the best material to use for the structure’s flooring. Wood mulch, rubber mulch and poured rubber flooring are being considered. However, not just the type of material, but also its cost in the short and long terms as well as the rec’s ability to maintain it will be factored into a final decision.

After that internal meeting, city officials are recommending wood mulch because of its more attractive price tag and ease of care. Snider submitted three design options and each were to stay within the same budget but differed in the type of material used as the base. As the base material cost increased, the amount of playground equipment diminished.

Mulch designed for playground usage that is comprised 100 percent of wood chips is what’s utilized currently for the existing playground. After 10-12 years, it does, however, begin to break down and needs to be replaced at that point.

Jordan said extra effort will be made to ensure that the new playground site drains properly to keep it as dry as possible and extend the life of the mulch as long as possible.

Stefanik said rubberized flooring looks like a million bucks the first year or two of its life, but it has a price tag to match, unfortunately, and it can be problematic and expensive in the long run. This type of flooring is much more costly, upwards of 40 percent of the project cost, and over time it is prone to weather-related cracking and discoloration. Replacing it is expensive too.

“The administration is recommending the wood mulch option. This option has more playground stations/equipment and overall the maintenance will be more cost effective,” Jordan said.

So what will the new playground look like? Jordan said it is considerably larger than what he originally anticipated.

“It meets or exceeds the actual playground area that is up there now,” he said.

It will be much more vibrant with colored metal and will be enclosed with a fence to keep kids contained. Bench seating for parents will be provided. The overall design is meant to provide kids of all ages and abilities an opportunity to play and explore.

“The entire site will be ADA accessible. Individual features will be ADA, but it is not exclusively ADA,” Jordan said.

He said he is pleased with the playground proposal and feels the rec board, city council and the community will enjoy it too.

“We hope what we developed will meet their approval,” Jordan said. “The playground is of some considerable size, and I think everyone will be able to enjoy it.”

Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck, who serves on the rec board, likes what he sees. His choice is the wood mulch because it affords the client, local kids, more of what they’re interested in, which is more equipment.

“Who are we building this for? We’re building this for kids. I remember I always wanted to go to the playground that had the most stuff, the one that had multiple slides, multiple swing sets,” Marnecheck said. “Putting my kid brain back on, I think that’s the one the people we’re making this for will enjoy the most. I don’t remember minding if it was mulch or something else.”

The playground’s installation – as well as renovation of the park’s restrooms and extra park signage – will be done simultaneously to the city hall project this year. The earliest the city would get started with the park enhancements would be September, Stefanik said, as the city does not want to disrupt residents’ planned gatherings at the pavilions.

Other components are being looked at, too, as part of a master plan of sorts for the park. This plan would detail planned enhancements for the park that the city would like to accomplish and when those items would be addressed. Items such as additional covered picnic areas, a fountain for Memorial Park Lake and more community garden space in the open area directly north of the future city hall site are all being considered.

“These aren’t necessarily things that will get down right away, but are more of a blueprint,” Stefanik said. “Every year hopefully we’ll tackle new projects in the park until we get it where we want it to be.”

The city has already knocked down a barn on the site near the current community garden, which has already done wonders to open the entire area up, said Council President Larry Antoskiewicz. He had served on the rec board for a number of years up until recently and has long been an advocate of this playground project. He’s anxious to see the next pieces of the puzzle being fit into place.

“When you come down State, it looks a lot more open and nicer,” Antoskiewicz said. “I think the playground is going to be a great addition to the park and will really brighten it up. This combined with the new city hall, I think, will really take the area and give it a much needed overhaul. Anytime we can get a local company to do the work, I’m all for that. I think they’ll put every effort in to do it right. The park is one of the things I really wanted to attack when I was on rec board, and it’s finally starting to take shape.”

The playground proposal will be on the rec board’s agenda for approval at their next meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. May 27.

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