CLARION - It's been a while in coming, but it looks like the new playground planned for the Clarion Area Elementary School on Boundary Street is on its way to becoming a reality.

Chandra Scheftic gave the board an update on the status of the playground project at the Clarion Area school board work session April 6.

Scheftic is Clarion Area's assistant to the business manager and has a background in parks and recreation. Scheftic has been spearheading the park project for the past two years. According to Scheftic, the district was ready to move forward with the renovation last spring but the COVID-19 shutdown at the end of the 2019-20 school year delayed the plans.

The district plans to create a primary playground and an intermediate playground. The primary playground is for students in kindergarten through the second-grade while the intermediate playground will be for students in third- through sixth-grade. The total cost for the renovation is estimated to be $195,000. However, Scheftic believes the costs could come in under the estimate.

Scheftic stated at the meeting, there is $125,000 available to use for the playground project.

Clarion Area Superintendent Dr. Joseph Carrico told the CLARION NEWS that the $125,000 was left over from the Clarion Area Elementary renovation a couple of years ago. Carrico stated the playgrounds were not included in the elementary renovation. In order to fund the remainder of the project, Carrico stated the district would transfer funds from the capital reserve to the general fund.

Scheftic estimates it will cost $40,000 for demolition and disposal of the existing playground equipment. Scheftic said she and Clarion Area Building and Grounds Supervisor Mike Fagley determined what would need to be done for demolition including removing the existing playground equipment, removal of the engineered wood fiber (mulch), installing French drains and backfilling with stone to create a sub base.

Scheftic said she did a cost estimate for the new playground equipment in February and it was $67,000 but she stated the costs had increased 5.5 percent since the original estimate and she said the prices were likely to keep rising.

Denny Bolitho of GameTime playground equipment has been working with Scheftic in the design and estimates on construction of the playground.

Scheftic alerted the board that GameTime is offering a promotion that with the purchase of the playground; GameTime would install the equipment free of charge. Scheftic stated 30 percent of costs of playground renovation is usually from the installation fee.

Scheftic said she and Fagley discussed which ground covering underneath the playground equipment would be best and she believes Pour in Place rubber was a better option that rubber mulch, wood mulch or interlocking rubber tiles. Scheftic said the estimate for the Pour in Place covering is $14 a square foot. Scheftic said that the Pour in Place covering would allow students to use the playground in a variety of weather conditions. Scheftic said if the rubber mulch was used the surface would get too muddy to use if the area was damp due to rain.

Also included in the project is a refurbishing of the asphalt pad at the site. Scheftic said she wants to reseal the pad and stencil markings for playground games.

Scheftic said she believes it would be better to complete the renovation of the primary playground fully before starting work on the intermediate playground.

Part of the intermediate playground renovation would be the construction of a temporary stage which could be used for a variety of events in the spring, summer and fall months. Scheftic said the stage would be able to be removed for winter.

One of the biggest pieces of the intermediate playground project is the installation of a multi-sport court which could be used for soccer, street hockey, field hockey and basketball.

Scheftic said part of the renovation will be the refurbishing of the existing backstop for kickball and softball.

During the meeting, a board member was asked about the installation of tennis courts but she said seeing as those were being installed in the proposed community park to be erected on Second Avenue the courts wouldn't be needed at the elementary playground.

Scheftic stated construction on the primary playgrounds could begin June 1 dependent on if they get the site prepped in time. Carrico said during the meeting the hope is to have the primary playground finished by the end of this summer and have the intermediate playground finished next summer so both playgrounds would be finished by the start of the 2022-23 school year.