SOUTH HAVEN — South Haven residents will have the chance to weigh in on whether city officials should seek state funds to replace the aging Kids Corner playground with a new one.
City council members on Monday voted to schedule a public hearing at 7 p.m., Monday, March 18 to seek comment on submitting two matching grant applications to help pay for a proposed $550,000 playground structure at Kids Corner playground at the corner of St. Joseph and Monroe streets.
“We’re facing the end-of-life cycle for Kids Corner playground and equipment,” City Manager Brian Dissette said. “Over the past couple of years staff has been discussing what can be done with it. The state has made it clear in writing they will no long grant funds to improve the current structure.”
The city hopes to obtain a $275,000 grant and will be applying for funds from the Michigan Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, according to Deb Davidson, communications director for the city.
If the city were to receive a grant it would have to match it with an additional $275,000.
“That can be from the general fund, mini-grants or cash donations,” Davidson said.
Kids Corner, resembling a wooden fortress, was built in 1988 by community volunteers. Area residents donated money and equipment to build the large timber play structure. Leathers & Associates of Ithaca designed the structure and supervised the community build.
But the playground is showing signs of age.
“It doesn’t meet ADA (American Disabilities Act) and is past its life-expectancy,” Department of Public Works Director Bill Hunter said. “It’s 10 years past.”
Even if the city receives a grant, replacing Kids Corner will take time, Dissette cautioned.
“Are you going to be bulldozing the site in six months? No,” Dissette said.
If the council OKs the grant application, the city won’t know until November whether it has received funding. If it does, construction would begin sometime in 2020.
If the grant is received, Dissette said he anticipates community involvement in developing the new playground.
“We used a community build for the playground equipment at Elkenburg Park and that worked extremely well. Kids Corner will be a larger project, but there’s no reason why we can’t have a community build or engage youth in the design. This will be a very positive thing.”