Pleasant Ridge, Ferndale schools collaborate on playground

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published March 23, 2016

 A proposed play structure at Roosevelt Elementary School would replace old basketball courts and line Ridge Road in Pleasant Ridge for easy community access during nonschool hours.

A proposed play structure at Roosevelt Elementary School would replace old basketball courts and line Ridge Road in Pleasant Ridge for easy community access during nonschool hours.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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PLEASANT RIDGE — Roosevelt Elementary School may no longer have basketball courts along Ridge Road, but a new collaboration between the city of Pleasant Ridge and the Ferndale School District will see a new play structure put in that is designed for accessibility.

At the March 15 City Commission meeting, Pleasant Ridge commissioners approved the city contributing just over $7,000 to the project, which is estimated to cost around $80,000. The Pleasant Ridge contribution will go toward the purchase of a spinner as part of phase two of the project, which is expected to begin in May.

“This project is a school-district-driven project, and they approached us when they recommitted to the Roosevelt building,” Pleasant Ridge City Manager James Breuckman said. “We knew there needs to be some upgrades and improvements, and it is located in Pleasant Ridge, so they wanted us to contribute less than 10 percent.”

Last year, the Ferndale School District approved a restructuring plan that will see Roosevelt become the lower elementary school for kindergarten to second-grade students. The school already has a play structure on the east side of the building, but Superintendent Blake Prewitt said the new structure will make it easier for children with mobility limitations.

The play structure will include a ramp for easy wheelchair access, and Prewitt said items like a merry-go-round and swings will have easy access for children to get on and get off if they need help.

“One thing our parents had identified is there were no handicapped-accessible playgrounds, and a number of students and residents have kids that need something like that,” Prewitt said. “So the parents and teachers and administrators and the Pleasant Ridge city manager looked into putting in a barrier-free playground so anyone with a mobility issue can play.”

The funding for the playground will come from a 2012 bond that was approved by voters in November of that year that will bring in around $23 million for the school district over a 10-year period. Prewitt said part of the bond called for some of the money to be set aside for playgrounds.

For Pleasant Ridge, the funding for its roughly $7,000 contribution comes from the capital improvement fund, which had money set aside for recreation improvements this year. Because some other planned projects came in under budget, Breuckman said the city had the extra funds to invest in the playground project.

During nonschool hours, the current Roosevelt park is open to the public, and so will the new playground when it is constructed. A Pleasant Ridge city survey showed that the Roosevelt park was one that residents valued, Breuckman said, so it made sense to invest more into that area.

“The Roosevelt park is a very important park for the westside residents, as it is in walking distance for pretty much everyone and a great resource for families with kids,” he said. “The fact that it is located right next to Ridge Road and is very visible shows anybody driving around that Pleasant Ridge invests in our parks and keeps things current and updated.”

In 2014, Pleasant Ridge voters approved a park improvement millage that will bring in around $1 million over a 10-year period for the city.

Already, the city has looked into making major improvements on the east side of the city with Gainsboro Park.

The fact that Pleasant Ridge is actively looking to improve its green space for residents made the city a good partner for the school district, Prewitt said, and everyone is excited to get started.

“I reached out to Jim (Breuckman) at the start of the project to make the city aware, and they had already been working on their parks,” he said. “So they had a good deal of knowledge on how the process works, and Jim was able to advise us on some of the ins and outs of doing a project like this.

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