New playground within reach for Boone Park

New playground within reach for Boone Park
A rendering of the equipment proposed for the playground at Boone Park South, the portion of the park between St. Johns Avenue and Herschel Street.

Thanks to Delores Barr Weaver, children and adults who currently enjoy Boone Park South will have more fun and interaction when a new playscape is installed later this year.

There’s just one small catch.

Friends of Jacksonville Parks, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that is raising community funds for the renovation of Boone Park (south) playground, must raise $8,000 by April 1. If they succeed, Weaver has made a pledge to donate $50,000 to the new playground.

The idea to renovate Boone Park playground came about after Kim Clontz, of Avondale, home-schooled her two daughters for three years. “As we were traveling, we were blown away at the type of playgrounds we saw in other cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and other places,” said Clontz. “They were modern in design, challenging, interesting and captured the attention of a much wider range of kids…not just those under 12…plus, they were just fun!”

In 2015, Clontz approached Pamela Telis with Friends of Boone Park South about the idea. Telis supported it and put Clontz in touch with Richard Skinner who, in 1995, designed and raised funds for the current playground.

“I approached Parks and Recreation and found that the existing playground equipment was on the ‘chopping block’ to be replaced within the next two years because it no longer meets ADA nor safety standards and requirements,” said Clontz. “I asked if I helped raise community funds if it would be possible to not simply replace the equipment with typical, cookie-cutter pieces, but with something different, long lasting and that would attract a wider range of children and include exercise equipment for adults. They said yes.” 

Clontz conducted more than 200 surveys within the playground to find out what people were looking for in a playground and obtained quotes from four different playground vendors before approaching District 14 Councilman Jim Love. “He agreed to match community-raised dollars up to $90,000 using district council bond funds. Meanwhile, Parks and Recreation allocated $75,000 toward the project,” Clontz said.

Since October 2015, the Friends of Jacksonville Parks organization has raised $42,000 in donations from the community and, with Weaver’s donation, needs to raise only $8,000 more by April 1, for a total of $100,000 from private donations.

Legislation for the project was filed February 17 and is slated for review by City Council in April. The timeline for ordering the new equipment, demolition of the old and construction of the new playground could put the project at completion by late July, according to Clontz. 

Recently some residents came forward with concerns about the primary colors originally selected. “To appease them, we have toned down the color palette to include earth tones…but it still looks fantastic and is going to be an unbelievable centerpiece to the community!” said Clontz.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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