It's taken a few years, but Marsh Creek Park in east Raleigh is taking shape.
At first it was home to some ballfields. Last May, ithe city's popular skate park opened there. And now, city park officials are celebrating the opening of the park's new community center and playground.
The city held a dedication for the playground last month at the park, located at 3016 New Hope Rd. And from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 14, it will host an open house for the new community center to showcase the facilities and activities there. It's free and open to the public.
The new playground and community center sit at the back of the park, past the ball fields, skate park and inline hockey rink. Marsh Creek community center, playground open
The 24,000-square-foot community center is a stunner as you drive up on it. It's full of environmentally friendly features, including solar water heating and lots of natural light, allowing the city to cut down on utility bills. You'll find a fitness room, art room, large multipurpose room, computer lab and a full gymnasium with real hard wood floors and air conditioning (which you won't find in many of the city's older community centers). There's also an outdoor, covered area that will come in handy for campers on rainy or sunny days.
The new building will serve as a satellite office for the city's teen programs with a full-time staffer located there.
"We have a really high demand in the north east," senior parks planner Stephen Bentley told me. "It’s pretty exciting for us."
A variety of programs are scheduled starting in the fall for kids starting at age 9 months to teens, along with adults. They include a Mother's Day Out for preschoolers and a jump rope team for 6- to 12-year-olds.
And (parents make a note of this), the building has wireless access, which might come in handy of you're waiting for your child to finish a class.
City officials didn't expect to start work on the playground until this year, but the community center construction came in under budget. So along with the extra funding and help from grants, the city was able to complete the playground ahead of schedule. Funding help came from the state, Wake County and Boundless Playgrounds, a nonprofit that works to build playgrounds for kids of all abilities.
The new playground offers opportunities for kids of all abilities to play, including wide ramps, smooth rubber mat surfacing and lots of opportunities to make noise.
"The design of the playground is geared around your senses," Bentley told me. "There are a lot of interactives for sound and some of the things we plant will smell ... mints, sage and rosemary."
Bentley said the playground will evolve over time as the landscaping grows and more is added. Also missing are picnic tables in the area where a concrete pad is right now. They're on order.
I took my kids to the playground last week and I think it's worth the drive. It's not shady, but it definitely kept my five-year-old occupied on a day when it wasn't so hot.
Check the video for a closer look of the playground (and me acting like a fool). You'll see a bit of community center in the video as well. I really liked the small table in the lobby with kids toys and activities in it. Nice touch.
And one thing to add that's always a plus on any playground trip: the bathroom was sparkling.
For more information about programs and facilities at Marsh Creek, call 919-996-4920.