Children’s Park may open in September

Crew members install soft-fall surface in July at the new Children’s Park playground. The entire park remains closed until final playground pieces arrive and can be installed.

Finishing Children’s Park is not child’s play.

Have you wondered why the fence remains around the City of Hood River park at Ninth and Eugene, weeks after the community work party?

About 400 people got together in June and raised the play structure from bare dirt to palisades of ramps, ladders and climbing and swinging stuff, replacing the old structure that was deteriorating and falling apart.

You might wonder, why is it still closed and when will it re-open?

The answers, in short, are “for safety reasons” and “possibly in September.”

There are “maybes” involved.

Mark Lago, city public works director, explained Thursday that several key pieces of the structure need to be installed and, because of the design of the facility, it’s still not safe to play on until all the pieces are in place.

By Thursday, the city was scheduled to receive those pieces — monkey bars, a fire pole, slide and other elements, along with connecting pieces — from designer Play By Design, of Ithaca, N.Y.

They’ll arrive in several large boxes.

“We won’t know what we have until we actually open up the boxes,” Lago said. The parks crew will begin the installation as soon as the pieces, whichever ones arrive, are ready, he said.

The issue is the integrated nature of the whole structure. Think of it as three cogs connecting to the center. Pieces come together at that point and must fit together, and the openings where those pieces go need to be covered, for the entire structure to be safe to use.

Other remaining work on the park includes concrete steps and a ramp at the playground entrance, some landscaping, and replacement of the section of irrigation that goes under the playground and waters the lawns on the south and west sides.

Meanwhile, the city is working with Hood River Rotary on what amounts to phase two of the project: Renovation of “Gibby,” the covered play structure at Children’s Park. Paint tests will be done to determine how much lead content exists, and that will determine whether the paint is removed and the surface repainted, or the siding removed. After the renovations are done, the city can install the mural created in June by local kids. The earliest this can begin will be next month.

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