December 20, 2014

Work on Deep River Park playground to begin in late July

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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DEEP RIVER TWP. — Preparations for a new playground at the Deep River Township Park are underway, with work to begin in late July.

Cathy Wilk, member of the Deep River Township Recreation Committee, presented the group’s new plan to the township board June 12. New play structures for varying age groups will stand atop a field of rubber mulch at the park once work is complete.

The structures are being put together by Miracle Group, which Wilk said did the Pinconning Park playground. The total cost of the equipment and construction was quoted at $49,470; within the roughly $50,000 the committee has raised for the project.

A 12-inch border surrounding the play area would contain the rubber mulch. According to state guidelines, a play area must have wood mulch, rubber mulch, sand, or pea stone under structures to help prevent injuries. Since pea stone is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and sand gets hard when wet, Wilk said the committee focused primarily on mulch.

While the price includes wood mulch to put under the structures for safety, Wilk said wood mulch requires more upkeep and can cause respiratory problems to flare up. She recommended rubber mulch, made out of recycled tires, which would cost an additional $5,000.

Rubber mulch does not need to be replaced and swept regularly, and Wilk plans on purchasing it through Rubber Safe Playgrounds out of Chicago, which produces mulch that does not rub off.

The Deep River Township board voted unanimously to donate the $5,000 grant received by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe May 31 to the project to cover the additional cost of getting rubber mulch.

“We will have a state-of-the-art playground, and will far exceed safety requirements,” Wilk said. “Our goal is to have it be playable in mid to late August.”

The project has been funded entirely free of taxpayer dollars, Wilk said, through grant money and donations. It is will be compliant with ADA guidelines.

The original plan for the playground was scrapped after Wilk learned they would only be able to afford half of one play structure for 5- to12-year-olds with the money raised. She told the township board the group did not want to assume they would be able to continue raising large sums of money for the park, so she began investigating other possibilities, leading to the current playground plans.

The current playground equipment, including a slide, a swingset, and bouncing toys, will have to be removed during construction work. The swingset will be removed entirely and replaced with a new one; Wilk said the existing set is so tall that to meet safety guidelines it would need more space than the committee has to work with. The slide and bouncing toys will be placed back among the newer equipment.

In the future, Wilk said the committee wants to add in a bike rack, picnic tables or benches, trees, and shade structures. Board Trustee Jo Ann Swartz said Omer received a grant to plant trees through Consumers Energy, and this project may end up being eligible for it as well.

Township Supervisor Robert Budz said the board would see if they had any additional money for the project for the next fiscal year, starting July 1, during the budget meeting June 26.

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