PERRYSBURG — As three city parks are getting ready for new playground equipment, the possible donation of the old equipment is being investigated by the city council recreation committee.
Missions International of America, a 501c3 charitable organization, contacted the city with the idea of having the playground equipment that is being removed from Fort Imagination be used at a school in Haiti.
Jay and Jan Neilsen, the group founders and Perrysburg residents, built and operate the Brad Reddick School in Savanette, Haiti. They attended a recent recreation committee meeting and answered questions from council members Jonathan Smith and Cory Kuhlman.
Prior to the meeting, Smith requested Law Director Kate Sandretto look into the possibility of the donation. At the same time, there is also new equipment going into Woodlands, Municipal and Bicentennial Parks, and the old equipment could also be donated.
Sandretto has found that it is common for a certified playground equipment safety inspector be used prior to the donation of playground equipment. She said the cost for three parks would be approximately $3,000.
“This is a little about liability, but it’s more about the safety of children,” Sandretto said.
City Administrator Bridgette Kabat found that the contractor performing the removal needs to consult with the new equipment installation contractor. The installation contractor would want proper backfill for future stability of the playground.
“We have to be careful of a poured-in-place flooring bubbling or heaving, if the site is not prepped correctly,” Kabat said.
Kuhlman, who is a lawyer, suggested that a waiver might be enough for liability issues.
The Neilsens agreed, pointing out that they have volunteers working with the group who have experience in playground equipment removal. Some were involved in the original installation of the Fort Imagination equipment.
“I’m all for the donation,” Kuhlman said. “I just don’t want our taxpayers to pay for it.”
Smith agreed with Kuhlman that a waiver should be enough, but has asked Sandretto to do some further research.
“If we can find a way for kids to use it somewhere else, I would like to see that,” Smith said.
The next step would include the new equipment contractor meeting with the volunteers who would be doing the removal. After that, the donation would have to be approved by city council.
Inspired by the donation concept, Smith had also asked Finance Director Amber Rathburn to investigate the possible creation of a parks foundation.
Rathburn looked at the Metroparks Toledo foundation concept as an example, with the idea of having citizens donate to the foundation, and then the foundation could make donations to the city.
Rathburn and Kabat will continue to look into the concept.
“This will be my personal goal here, for the next six months,” Smith said.
Kabat also updated the committee on the status of the playground installation projects.
There has been a delay on new equipment going into the city parks. Because they are attempting to create more accessible facilities, the playground surfaces are poured rubber, and weather conditions must be ideal for installation.
Kabat said that about half the playground equipment has arrived from the manufacturers and the city is storing the truckloads that have shown up until installation. She added that, contractually, the manufacturers need to have the equipment installed by the end of June.
Council member Barry VanHoozen was absent from the meeting.