By Karen Billing
Improvements six years in the making for Carmel Grove Park may begin in the coming months. The park, located on the corner of Carmel Grove Road and Carmel Creek Road, will be getting new playground equipment as well as a new bench, drinking fountain and picnic table.
The changes were approved at the Jan. 27 Carmel Valley Community Planning Board meeting and the following week at the Feb. 1 Carmel Valley Recreation Council.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is driving the changes, requiring increased accessibility to the park’s playground.
Additionally, there have been changes in playground safety laws since the park was built in 1988.
“There are quite a few things that need to be done,” said Todd Schmit, city project manager.
In addition to the new playground equipment, ADA improvements include replacing the existing walkway from the southwest corner of the park to the play area, replacing stairway handrails, stairway treads and painting a curb near the accessible walkway.
“The great news is we get new playground equipment, in addition to the increased accessibility,” said Carmel Valley Recreation Council Treasurer Ginny Barnes. “It’s a win-win-win for the community.”
The improvement costs of $481,000 are already available in the Carmel Valley Facilities Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds. It should take 12-15 months to complete the work.
When the project was put forth nearly six years ago, Barnes said the neighbors came up with a list of things they would like to see on the playground, such as single and double wide slides, “little tykes” play structure, tic-tax-toe panel, crawl tunnel, step ladder, curly climber and swings.
The city plans to work with the Carmel Valley Recreation Council and neighbors as they develop the play area plan.
“We want the most variety of activities for the children,” project manager Kevin Oliver said.
Resident Karen Cody said that there were problems with the original installation of the playground equipment, especially the metal slide.
“The actual structure gets too hot,” Cody said. “The actual orientation of the slide is a biggie that needs to be reviewed. There are a lot of condos around the park that have small children and that park is used an awful lot.”
Schmit said that since 1988 there have been many improvements in playground equipment and they will take the sun angle into consideration, but the material used most these days is plastic, not metal.
A new rubberized surface will also cover nearly half of the playground area, Schmit said.
At the Carmel Valley planning board meeting, board member Christian Clews asked why it will take so long to build. Oliver explained that with the city’s design/build method, they have to gather input, get together a design packet and put out the bid for contractors, all of which takes time before they can put “shovel to ground.”
Several Carmel Valley parks are on the list for similar ADA and playground improvements. Barnes said after Carmel Grove is finished, they will move on to Torrey Highlands, Del Mar Trails and others.
For more information, contact Kevin Oliver at (619) 533-5139.