By Doug Lindner
SOLON– The playground at Randall Park will be moving to higher ground.
For the better part of a year, there’s been snow fence preventing the use of the playground equipment at the park.
The park flooded badly in the spring, and the city of Solon was hoping to utilize Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to relocate the playground structures and potentially make them resistant to rising waters.
But FEMA funds will only pay for the restoration of the equipment, not the mitigation of a recurring problem, and that left Solon council members with the question of how to move ahead.
At last week’s meeting, council members decided Randall Park needs to be open come spring, and its playground equipment needs to be moved to a different location there.
City administrator Cassandra Lippincott reported during the Oct. 2 meeting that the city will only qualify for approximately $45,000 of federal disaster relief at Randall Park– $27,000 for the playground and $18,000 for the sand volleyball court.
Those funds are based on the restoration of the two park amenities, and the city would be required to match 15 percent of the money.
The city did not qualify for mitigation funds, which the city was hoping to use to not only move the structures, but to fit with weather-resistant playground tiles similar to those at Lakeview Elementary.
With a firm answer from FEMA in hand, the city council deliberated how to use the money.
“What would be the approximate cost of moving the large piece of equipment?” council member Steve Stange asked public works director Scott Kleppe.
Kleppe indicated all of the pieces would have to be moved, but that just pouring new concrete bases would probably exceed $10,000.
Stange suggested moving at least the largest playground piece to a location closer to the park’s shelter, near its parking lot, an area which has not been severely impacted by floodwaters from Mill Creek.
The rest of the equipment could be moved over time, and a permanent pad could be a long term solution, he said.
“I would gather from the council we want a plan to have this park ready to go for next spring,” mayor Cami Rasmussen said. “That’s why we have it on the agenda tonight.”
Can the city move the playground up to higher ground, using mulch for playground surface, for the $45,000? asked council member Ron Herdliska.
“I believe so,” said Kleppe. “But we currently don’t have any higher ground.” Any location at Randall Park would have to be raised, he said.
Several areas around the park were discussed as potential sites for relocation, most notably near the park shelter.
“Obviously, this is our only nice playground park in town and it’s been a great loss to the community,” Rasmussen said. “Folks really miss it and want it back.”
She recommended a small committee consisting of Kleppe, parks and recreation coordinator Travis Young and council member Brad Kunkel develop a preliminary plan for the reconfiguring of the park.