Parks foundation to help rebuild Eureka

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Al Key/DRC file photo
Eureka playground at Denton’s South Lakes Park is 19 years old, nearing the end of its expected lifespan.

Parks supporters to raise funds to replace aging play structure

The Denton Parks Foundation will help the city replace the aging Eureka playground by raising money to rebuild a comparable project.

The goal is to remove the $1 million needed to replace the playground from the city’s anticipated bond election in November 2014, according to Tim Crouch, who serves both as the foundation chairman and co-chairman of the bond election committee.

In exchange, the City Council agreed to support the part-time salary of the foundation’s executive director for two more years. The city has already pledged $35,000, enough to support the director for a full year, and will contribute another $70,000 for the additional years.

“We recognize that this will be a sensitive project,” said Emerson Vorel, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “It was community-designed and community-built.”

Crews have applied sealant to the wood structure twice a year, an expensive but necessary step to keep arsenic from leaching out of the treated lumber used to build the playground at South Lakes Park. But the 19-year-old structure wasn’t expected to last more than about 20 years.

The original structure was built by local volunteers guided by a New York-based architectural firm, Leathers and Associates, which designed the structure with input from the city’s children.

Similar playgrounds have been built in communities all over the country. Some of them, like Denton’s, were built with the pesticide-treated wood that is no longer allowed, according to Environmental Protection Agency rules from 2003.

In addition, not all aspects of the current playground are accessible to wheelchair users. A new design would make much more of the structure accessible.

The Leathers group has been helping people in other communities redesign and rebuild, Vorel said.

A preliminary design, as would be needed for a capital campaign, could be made in a day, he said. Residents participate in design discussions early in the day, a designer puts together conceptual drawings in several hours, and the plan is unveiled that night.

The council agreed to pursue the option as long as the city’s parks department investigated other firms that provide similar services.

Vorel cautioned the council that the community has cared a lot about the playground and that early feedback has been specific.

“They say, ‘We want what’s out there, but bigger and better,’” Vorel said.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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