News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 18, 2013

Officials eye 2nd large-scale playground

Collett Park a possible site for play area similar to Oakley Playground

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Wear and tear on the popular Oakley Playground at Deming Park has prompted park officials and representatives of the Oakley Foundation to consider opening a second, large-scale, city playground, park officials said Wednesday.

The Oakley Playground in Deming Park, opened in 2003, is a “model” for playgrounds across the nation, said Eddie Bird, superintendent of the Terre Haute Department of Parks and Recreation. It is often featured in parks magazines, he said.

“Everybody comes here,” Bird said of the 17,000-square foot playground, which features two separate play areas, one for children ages 5 to 12 and one for kids 2 to 5.

Due to the high traffic at the Oakley Playground, parks officials discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the parks board, the possibility of opening a new playground somewhere in the city. One idea would place the new playground at Collett Park, a historic park on the city’s north side dedicated in 1883.

The idea for a new playground is still in its very early stages, Bird said, adding that discussions would first have to take place with the Collett Park Neighborhood Association. Any new playground would also need the approval of the park board members, Bird noted.

Any playground at Collett Park would be designed to fit with the historic character of the park, said Bruce Rosselli, director of recreation for the parks department.

The Oakley Foundation has expressed interest in supporting a second playground, he said.

The Deming Park Oakley Playground cost $800,000 to build. More than half the money came from donations and grants from organizations such as the Oakley Foundation, according to a 2003 Tribune-Star report.

Currently, the parks department is seeking information about resurfacing the entire Oakley Playground in Deming Park. Board members are seeking cost estimates for different types of surfaces. The surface of the playground is made of a spongy material to avoid serious injuries when children fall.

One unique feature of the Oakley Playground is its accessibility to people with disabilities, something rare in playgrounds when the playground first opened, park officials said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com