Kompan playground equipment coming to Landon Park this summer

Kompan playground equipment coming to Landon Park this summer
The existing swings are some of the playground equipment that will be replaced when Landon Park in San Marco is refurbished this summer.

One of San Marco’s favorite places to play is getting a facelift.

To become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the City of Jacksonville plans to refurbish Landon Park this summer. Included in the plans are new state-of-the-art playground equipment, said LeAnna Cumber, former president of the San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS).

With the help of the San Marco Garden Circle and the City Parks and Recreation Department, the neighborhood park will sport a refreshed formal rose garden, picnic tables, and new Kompan play equipment, resembling what is found in Boone Park in Avondale, Cumber said.

The playground equipment will be installed by the fall of 2018, said Tia Ford, a City spokesperson. The rose garden will be replanted in its entirety when it is cooler in the fall, once the City has installed the new equipment, said San Marco Garden Circle President Lynda Erwin.

The cost of the playground upgrade is $85,000, and will be fully funded by the City, said Ford. Included in the new playground design will be two ADA-compliant paths, a picnic area, new swings, and new Kompan play equipment – a cube, “spinner bowls” and a “super nova” – as well as a refurbished drinking fountain. Some of the existing playground equipment will remain, but the tall, steel slide and old swing set, which have graced the playground for many years, will be replaced, Cumber said.

Rendering of Landon Park’s refurbishment, which is expected to be completed by fall 2018.

Rendering of Landon Park’s refurbishment, which is expected to be completed by fall 2018.

The new equipment was selected to serve various age levels and abilities, said District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer, noting that SMPS reviewed the selections to make sure the new equipment would be visually appropriate with San Marco’s landscape.

“Some of us will be sad to see some of the old historic pieces go,” Boyer said. “But on the other hand, there’s a need to be compliant with today’s standards. The goal is to have something community children enjoy. This area was designed to be a neighborhood park that residents could walk to from various parts of the community. We want to have a variety of things that appeal to different ages.”

The Kompan playground equipment is “carefully designed to stimulate both certain types of physical play, social interaction, and learning capabilities,” Boyer continued. “As the children figure things out, they can come back multiple times and do different things. It’s very intentional how the structures are designed,” she said.

The Parks Department was sparked into action when the Garden Circle approached it with the idea of installing a new picnic table near its formal rose garden in honor of its 85th anniversary last year, said Erwin.

Because new equipment was being added to the park, the City was required by federal law to refurbish greenspace and bring everything up to ADA codes, said Boyer. Prior to the Garden Circle’s request, Landon was an older “grandfathered” park, which was not ADA-compliant.

Having lost most of the bushes to salt water intrusion from flooding during Hurricane Irma, the Garden Circle plans to replace all the plantings – approximately 100 boxwoods and 24 rose bushes. “We need to start from the ground up,” said Erwin, noting the circle is reluctant to plant anything during hurricane season and plans to hold a fundraiser this fall to help pay for the costs of the new foliage.

“We’re very excited at the prospect of working with the City to beautify the park,” Erwin said. “Landon Park is a very important part of the neighborhood, and we have wanted to add something special to help beautify the area.”

Soon the Garden Circle will add another bronze plaque in the Landon Park garden to honor longtime member Jean Farrens, a River Road resident who passed away March 15, 2018. Before she died, Farrens, who was 91 years old, was the club’s oldest active member, having joined 41 years ago in 1977, said Cathy Watkiss, historian for the circle. Farrens’ plaque will join the half dozen bronze plaques already installed in the garden, which memorialize deceased club members.

Southside Park

The San Marco Preservation Society eventually plans to improve the playground facilities at Southside Park near Julia Landon College Preparatory School, said Cumber. New equipment will cost a considerable amount of money, so ideas for the park are still in the “formative” stage,” she said.

Boyer said the city has worked to clean up Southside Park, by cutting back the overgrowth near the retention pond. Although the park’s facilities and playground equipment are somewhat outdated, they are ADA-compliant and do not require the immediate attention of the City, she said.

“I hope we do a major redo in Southside Park, but it doesn’t demand the immediate attention like Landon did. The City has done some work cleaning everything up over there, especially the area near the retention pond, which is supposed to be a feature with a walking trail around it. It was almost scary, because it was so overgrown,” Boyer said.

“The difference between Landon Park and Southside Park is that Southside is ADA-compliant. So, if you are switching out equipment that is fine but maybe not as fun, that constitutes different perspective (as far as the City is concerned),” she continued.

Boyer said the City might be able to help to upgrade Southside Park in the future but would probably not fully fund any new play equipment because it needs to “prioritize” its funding to park projects that are ADA deficient. 

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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