This swing set at Frederick Park is noncompliant because there are three swings in each bay instead of two swings, which is the current standard.

This swing set at Frederick Park is noncompliant because there are three swings in each bay instead of two swings, which is the current standard.

Photo provided by the city of St. Clair Shores


St. Clair Shores investigates replacing some playground equipment

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 19, 2018

 A stand-alone metal slide at Welsh Park does not meet current standards and could be a head entrapment hazard on the steps and handrails, according to a packet of information provided to City Council.

A stand-alone metal slide at Welsh Park does not meet current standards and could be a head entrapment hazard on the steps and handrails, according to a packet of information provided to City Council.

Photo provided by the city of St. Clair Shores

 This structure is more than 23 years old. A slide on the structure is broken and the track ride is damaged as well.

This structure is more than 23 years old. A slide on the structure is broken and the track ride is damaged as well.

Photo provided by the city of St. Clair Shores

ST. CLAIR SHORES — “They enhance, we hope, the quality of life in a little area.”

Those are the thoughts of Mayor Kip Walby on neighborhood parks scattered throughout the city. But with the playground equipment at those parks more than 20 years old in most cases, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep the parks in working order for the residents who want to walk over and spend a day, afternoon or evening enjoying them.

“The playground equipment that we have, a lot of it is old, and it’s time to go ahead and get new equipment that’s going to last 20, 30 years,” said Parks and Recreation Director Greg Esler.

He explained that with the time and money needed to repair some of the pieces, the city is better off just purchasing new equipment.

City Council members got an idea of what equipment was desired for each of the neighborhood parks at a Jan. 27 workshop meeting. 

The neighborhood parks with plans for new equipment include Welsh and Frederick parks, along with Brys Park and Kyte Monroe Memorial Park, where Walby said the playground is used quite a bit by children while their siblings play sports. 

“All of our equipment there at these neighborhood parks have been in that 20-year to 25-year age, so it’s a little bit old, a little bit run-down, and ... some of it does not meet the new standards,” he said. 

Esler said that they worked with playground specialists to find the best equipment to improve the motor skills, strength and imagination of children.

“The playgrounds are probably one of the only things left where kids can really use their imagination,” he said. “They can run and do what they want.”

Some of the rules for playground equipment, such as a requirement that there only be two swings in a bay, have changed since the city last installed equipment, Esler said. 

In evaluating the equipment in preparation for potential updates, Walby said that a majority of City Council members are in favor of doing the work and potentially paying for it with some of the money earned from the sale of homes purchased from the tax foreclosure rehabilitation program.

Walby said that it is “money that was taken from the neighborhoods,” so it is a good use to “put it back into the neighborhoods.”

He said the city is trying to apply for a grant to pay for new equipment and improvements to the bathrooms at Brys Park, which are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. He said they’re also investigating whether they can add some equipment for children with special needs to the park, since Veterans Memorial Park is the only park in the city with equipment of that kind right now, he said. 

“It enhances the neighborhood,” he said. “You live at Mack Avenue, down there by St. Joan (of Arc) and Welsh Park area, it’s nice on a Monday or an afternoon or evening — walk over and enjoy the park with your kid,” he said. “It just enhances the neighborhoods, and the parks are great for a little area.”

The grant application is due April 1.

Walby said there is about $750,000 in the tax foreclosure fund. Now, he said, they are waiting for more information on the final cost of projects and what could be done on an annual basis to improve the parks. 

“The initial part was to gain feedback on where do we want to go?” he said. “There’s strong support of enhancing the neighborhood parks here and using that money.”

Esler said he is grateful that city leaders seem supportive of improving the parks.

“It gave me great delight in seeing that the mayor and council definitely had enthusiasm for new playgrounds equipment in our neighborhood parks,” Esler said. “I think they all realize that we need to move in that direction.”