Since 2009, a group has worked hard to replace the aging playground at Laurel Hills Park with one that's better designed for kids of all abilities.
It took longer than organizers hoped, but they're making a huge step forward this weekend. Dozens of volunteers will fan out across the site for a community build to install much of the planned playground equipment for the new Sassafras All Children's Playground at Laurel Hills Park off Edwards Mill Road in north Raleigh.
The $2.3 million project will be paid for, in part, by $1 million coming from the 2014 parks bond. Organizers also continue to raise private funds toward the new playground.
Sassafras won't be open when volunteers are done with their work this weekend. City officials tell me that the playground likely won't open until early fall.
Shawsheen Baker, a Raleigh senior park planner, tells me most of the composite equipment will be built this weekend, but there will be other work to be done, including the installation of specialty elements, which must be installed by a certified contractor, along with safety surfacing, some sidewalks and landscaping.
Sassafras will replace the original All Children's Playground, which was removed last fall. The large, wooden play structure was built back in 1991 with a similar effort. The community came together to build a playground that was intended for kids of all abilities, including those with physical or mental handicaps.
But, over time, the playground, which was damaged by fire several years ago, was a tricky place for all children to play. The sand surfacing, for instance, was difficult for children in wheelchairs and walkers to navigate. The new design, with smooth safety surfacing and other elements, incorporates the latest research and advancements in play equipment.
The design includes areas for toddlers and older children, along with a maze, sand play, a stage and child calming areas.
You'll find typical playground fare, such as swings and slides, on the 3.5-acre site. There also will be a basketball court with adjustable hoop height, accessible elevated decking and a pair of 50-foot-long zip-lines, according to the city's website.
I'll have more about the build and design next week. Can't wait for it to open!