FULTON, NY – The Recreation Committee in Fulton recently addressed the crucial need for swings to be put up in the city’s parks at the regular meeting held Tuesday (June 14.)
Knowing the importance of the swings going up as soon as possible, the issue boiled down to “money and help,” the committee agreed.
New state regulations require safety landing zones to utilize new wood chips made out of certified, manufactured wood fiber that is “basically, any kind of lumber chipped without bark, branches or any kind of impurities,” said Barry Ostrander, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation.
The problem this poses for the city is mostly financial, as the cost of certified wood chips is more than the city’s spent in the past on other options.
The city must follow a state approved handbook that outlines safety and equipment guidelines that is also essentially the blueprint for insurance companies to ensure safety.
While other options such as pea gravel or sand have been considered, the required depth changes with each material and therefore doesn’t produce any savings.
For example, Patrick Park located on Frawley Drive measuring in at 165 feet long by 45 feet wide, would require 504 tons of pea gravel to satisfy the state required depth needed of 18 inches throughout the park.
An estimate from Riccelli pricing pea gravel by the ton would total almost $9,000 worth of material to complete the playground.
Similar outcomes were found when estimating the price for sand, which would need to satisfy 22 inches in depth throughout the park.
Swings are already up at Vorhees Park and Hulett Park, and some swings are up at Foster Park. Swings still need to be put up at VanBuren Park, Patrick Park and Recreation Park.
“We need to do something. The truth is we have no pools, the beach isn’t open yet. The playgrounds are all these kids have to do this summer,” said sixth ward councilman, Larry Macner.
The committee unanimously agreed with the urgency needed to take action for putting swings up.
“It’s going to be costly, it’s not going to be cheap. And it’s going to take a little time, too” said Ostrander. “But we will get it done, people are really using the parks again and that’s a great thing.”
The process is not a simple one, the committee knows from recently following the procedure at Hulett Park.
First, the site needs to be excavated. Then, a layer of fabric will be laid down, followed by a 2 inch layer of drain stone, followed by another layer of fabric before finally laying the wood chips.
One of the other issues posed to the city, is manpower for this slightly time efficient procedure, especially for the larger parks.
The Parks and Recreation Department splits all duties among four employees including the most recent task taking up the largest amount of time, mowing throughout the city.
While the department expressed appreciation to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works, C.J. Smith for sending employees from the DPW to assist on a few jobs, there is still a need for more manpower in the Parks and Recreation Department.
“If we could get just one or two seasonal employees, that would help enormously,” said Mark Woodworth.
The department is mostly caught up on mowing after a very busy month of May that spread the few employees thin, and their sights are now set on the city playgrounds.
Officials plan to continue getting estimates to establish the cheapest course of action and from there will transfer funds where possible to ensure the swings are utilized this summer.
The committee set a time line with hopes to have all swings available for kids by the end of June, early July at the latest.
Committee member, Bob Weston spoke of his recent time spent at Bullhead Point and Recreation Park where both areas were completely flooded with people, both entertaining separate events.
The committee beamed with pride at the fact that the parks are being utilized and enjoyed, furthering their push to have the playgrounds ready with swings as soon as possible.
“If we can just keep moving, keep going, it’s only going to get better,” said Weston.