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Renovations planned for select county playgrounds

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By Tris DeRoma

Because of the importance of playgrounds to adults and children in the community, the Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Department will renovate some select playgrounds in Los Alamos and White Rock as part of a $20,000 upgrade project.

Upgrades are expected to be completed by June.

Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Department has targeted several neighborhood playgrounds for renovation. They include three playgrounds in Los Alamos. Those include the tot lots in Walnut Park, the 37th Street Tot Lot and the Ridgeway Drive Tot Lot.

Also on the list are Overlook Park in White Rock  and Urban Park in Los Alamos. Twelve-thousand dollars has been allocated for improvements at Urban Park, and Parks and Recreation plans to spend $14,000 on improvements to the concession stand at Overlook Park. The department also plans to spend $18,000 on Overlook Park’s playground.  

Most of the work will be to make all of the parks more accessible to the disabled by removing safety hazards and upgrading some of the fencing around play areas.

Also, Parks and Recreation will make the parks more attractive to a wider variety of age groups.

Surveys and opinion sessions done in the early 2000s noted that most of the parks in Los Alamos County were focusing on just one age group. Since then, the Parks and Recreation Division has been working to put in toys and playsets that appeal to a variety of ages.

“As a family grows we didn’t have much for younger children,” Open Space Division Manager Chris Wilson said. “The play structures now are designed in such a way to help develop motor skills and social interaction.”

Design and evaluation of these playgrounds began in 2017. Funding came from the Parks’ major maintenance funding fund and projects added on by the Los Alamos County Council. The date for completion on these projects will be June.
Walnut Street Playground

At the Walnut Street Playground, the concrete borders around the tot lots will be removed to make them accessible to those in wheelchairs. The slide and the two climbing apparatuses will be moved away from other the transmission lines and placed in the upper tot lot. The barbed-wire perimeter fence will be removed and chain-link fences will be installed around the tot lots, the picnic areas and the basketball court. Hopscotch and other games will be painted onto half of the basketball court, leaving the south end of the court open for basketball.

A picnic table and a park bench will be installed, and possibly a shade structure.

37th Street Playground

At the playground on 37th Street, barbed wire fencing will be removed from there as well, borders will be repaired and made accessible to the disable, and trail access will be created. Also, a shade structure may be installed along with additional, age-appropriate park playground toys and equipment.

Ridgeway Drive Playground

At the Ridgeway Drive Playground, the concrete tables and curbing will be removed, and so will the swings and uneven bars. Wooden borders will be installed around the tot lots, and old and damaged fencing, asphalt and concrete will be removed. A parking lot will be created also.

Overlook Park

At the Overlook Park playground, four park benches will be installed, along with a barbecue, picnic tables and a trash can. Other additions include and age appropriate swing set, and other playground equipment. Mulch will be removed from the park also, including the ramp to the soccer field, various fencing and walls, and park benches.

Sand will be removed from all the sites, and in its place will be a special wood chipping designed for wheelchair access.