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Replacement planned for Laurel Hills playground

Another one of Raleigh's major playgrounds is set for demolition this year. All Children's Playground at Laurel Hills Park will be open until September when its scheduled to be razed.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
UPDATE: All Children's will remain open until enough money is raised to build its replacement. For updated information, click here.

For nearly two decades, All Children's Playground at Laurel Hills Park in north Raleigh off Edwards Mill Road has been a much visited playspace.

The massive structure with its tunnels and turrets is a favorite place for kids to play. The city-owned park, which opened in 1991 after a week-long community build, is designed to be a place for all children (thus the name) to play in. There's a separate area meant for children with disabilities.

But the playground's age is showing. A portion was destroyed by fire several years ago. And the wood structure doesn't meet current safety standards. The sand surface, for instance, isn't wheelchair accessible. And while it was state-of-the-art back when it was built, playground design has come a long way since then.

Last year, a group formed to replace the playground. The result is what's now called Sassafras All Children's Playground.
The Frankie Lemmon Foundation is serving as the fiscal agent for the project. The foundation raises money for the Frankie Lemmon School, the first preschool-kindergarten in Wake County designed for children with special education needs. And Stewart Engineering, a Raleigh firm, has stepped up to offer their services for free.

The group, which includes the city's parks department, has launched a fundraising campaign to raise all the money for the project, which could cost as much as $1 million depending on the design. No city money is attached to the project, city park superintendent Wayne Schindler told me this week.

To kick off the fundraising effort, organizers have planned an event Saturday at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. It will feature live music, activities for kids and the inspirational story of Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father-and-son race team. Click here for details.

The goal of Sassafras' planners is to create an innovative playground that integrates the landscaping into the play area and includes play equipment for all kids throughout. Schindler said he expects it will become a destination just like Pullen Park is for the region.

The existing playground will remain open through about September when it will be torn down so construction can begin. But Schindler wants to emphasize that the existing playground is still open (there's been some misinformation out there, he said).

The new playground is scheduled to open in May 2011. That means the city's two major playgrounds: Pullen Park and All Children's will both be closed at the same time. Click here to learn more about the Pullen project.

Learn more about the plans for the park with my interview with Schindler.


And check out the existing All Children's Playground in this video.






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