The Ron Kotarski Jr. Memorial playground was built in May 2002 by Leathers and Associates. Hundreds of volunteers participated in the community construction project. The castle-style playground is a mix of wood, composite materials, steel and plastic. It has slides, catwalks, bridges, learning areas, a climbing wall, swing sets, tunnels, mazes, monkey bars and more.
But deterioration of much of the wooden components led to safety concerns that closed the playground Sept. 11. Leathers and Associates conducted an assessment on its condition Nov. 8. The inspectors concluded it is in “poor to fair” condition, but can be repaired.
Here are some highlights of the report:
Poor conditionIn the poor category, some support posts show slight signs of rot at the grade line, and many have significant splitting and cracking above grade. The report recommends replacing the damaged posts, rather than saving them. The report warns that the suspension bridge is in very bad condition and should be replaced immediately. Much of the framing has significantly deteriorated, the report says, to the point where the screws and nails no longer hold in the split and cracked wood. The fence in poor condition with major splintering, missing pickets and wear. And more wood chips need to be added to the ground to reach a total depth of 12 inches.Some slides should be replaced because of gaps and cracks, including the spiral and tot slide.
The horizontal ladders and ring bridge are in poor condition, with cracked and split supports and headers. The framing for rubber bridge is in very bad condition, and the framing for the crawl tunnels is also in very bad condition. The tic-tac-toe game needs replaced, as does the sound wall. The tractor needs repainting, and the Galloping Goose structure should be replaced.Fair conditionIn the fair category, the composite decking and hand rails are in OK condition, as are the composite balusters. The maze cube wood framing is in fair condition, and the tube slide and straight wave slide do not have gaps or cracks.The swing sets are in good condition, and the swing beams have been replaced. The chain bridge is in fair condition, and so is the rock wall. The roof towers are also in good condition because they were updated with capped metal roofs.SummaryThe report recommends planning for a playground replacement due to several structural and safety issues. However, it also concludes that “areas can be repaired back to their original condition, to bring it back into safety compliance.”
To repair the playground, including materials and company fees, Leathers estimates costs at $160,000 to $190,000. A custom-designed community built replacement estimate is around $210,000 to $235,000.
“While a renovation is an option, consideration should be given to the total amount budgeted vs. the expected longevity of each option. Also, yearly maintenance cost and needs for upkeep must be kept in mind,” the report states.