Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Hopewell plans playground upgrades
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Nov 4, 2013, 12:48

CONTRIBUTED IMAGE A plan shows what inclusive equipment could look like.

HOPEWELL — After more than 15 years, City Point playground in Hopewell will have new equipment. The new equipment will be a first for the city, allowing children of all ages to play together.  

Jo Turek, director of Hopewell Recreation and Parks, said City Point Park will be the first playground in the city to get an all-inclusive playground. 

“It will allow for anyone who is in a wheelchair, a walker, child or adult, to play,” Turek said. “Our thought process was this, grandparents may have walkers too but want to interact with their grandchildren. So what a better way to make it easier for them to get here and interact.” 

Though the playground already includes playground equipment, Turek said it has been over a decade since it has been updated. She also wanted to make sure all children, young and old, get the chance to play. 

The new equipment, which as Turek described, is a decking system, meaning both sides of the equipment are accessible, is going to be laid atop synthetic turf. She said this allows for easy wheelchair access, walkers and even strollers. 

While the plan is made and the equipment chosen for the site, Turek is still working to secure funding for the project, estimated to cost close to $55,000. A partner for the project, the Hopewell-Prince George Civitan Club, which Turek said she is “fortunate” to have on board, has been secured and is working closely with Turek and the Recreation and Parks department to get this playground built. 

Turek said the Civitan club is working on applying for an $18,000 grant to go toward the project. The club is also working on adding a specialty swing to not only City Point Park, but Mathis Pirate Park as well. 

In addition to the grant, which Turek said she anticipates hearing word by the end of the year, the project at City Point Park has been chosen by kaBOOM, a Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, DPS, and national nonprofit, to be an alternate for a grant. Last year, the department received a $20,000 from kaBOOM, which allowed for the new playground equipment at Mathis Park. 
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The current equipment at the park, which has been there for 15 years.

“Since there’s already playground equipment kaBOOM would like to put playground equipment at a site that has nothing, but they saw the importance of this facility, making it all inclusive,” Turek said, noting there is chance the department could receive funding. 

The city is also contributing to the playground at City Point. Recently, Turek kicked off the Playground Campaign, a campaign that turns $1 into $2; for every donation made, the city will match up to $25,000. 

Turek expresses hope that with the remaining months of the year and the beginning of next year, funding will be secured and a new playground will start to go up in spring of 2014. 

“We’re reaching out to community organizations, we’re reaching out to churches, just general good people in the community that want to help provide activities for our youth,” Turek said. 

In addition to adding the all inclusive playground, work is also being done to bring back the basketball courts, an activity that has been missing from the park, and others around the city, for over 15 years. 

Currently, a contractor is working to fill in the cracks at the courts, and once that is completed, the recreation and parks staff will work to repaint the court. New basketball goals will also be added. All the improvements to the courts, including resealing and repainting, are estimated to cost about $3,000. 

Bringing back the basketball courts in Hopewell, especially in City Point, has been a vision for not only Turek, but Tommy Meadows, former neighborhood watch chairman for City Point. 

“We have a bunch of kids playing in the streets with the portable basketball courts and it’s just not right. It’s dangerous and we care about our kids,” Meadows said. 

As explained by both Turek and Meadows, all the basketball courts in the city were removed 15-20 years ago. More recently, Turek said many of the neighborhood watch groups in the city have shown an interest in bringing them back to all the playgrounds. 

“Why are we punishing the kids now for something that happened 15, 20 years ago?” Meadows asked. “They need a place to play. Let’s give them the chance to act right. It’s on them. Let’s give them the opportunity. ... If there are problems, it’s going to be on these kids. They need to understand it’s a privilege. If they treat it right, obey the rules and don’t get out of hand, they can keep their privilege.” 

As far as the safety concerns surrounding the basketball area, Turek said the City Point neighborhood watch will be the “eyes and ears,” for the park. 

The new playground will also come with new handicapped parking spaces, lining both proposed entrances to the park. Turek said this will allow those with handicaps to park and come right up to the park, along a flat surface.

Improvements are also being made at another park across town, Woodlawn Park. Turek said the asphalt area is being removed and a multi-purpose soccer, football goal is being added. She said this makes the park more open. The improvements should be completed by the end of the month. 

“The good thing about it is it will give us another practice field for football as well as soccer because we need that kind of space,” Turek said. 
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The basketball courts at the park will be reopened for the children at City Point Park.

As Turek stands at City Point Park, walking from the street, up the small hill, to stand in the middle of the empty space, she said she is pleased to see the project in the beginning stages. Turek said on the second day of school she came to the park to find over 20 children of all ages playing together. She wants to give those 20 children, as well as many more in the community, a chance to play.

“We want to try to do what we can to bring things back up to a quality level,” Turek said. “They love what we’ve got already but we feel this enhancement, making it an all-inclusive piece, we tie the toddlers to the grandparents, which we think is pretty awesome.” 

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