Northland families will have a few new reasons to enjoy the outdoors this spring with three new or refurbished playgrounds, thanks in part to neighbors getting involved and asking the city for upgrades.
The most visible will be at the ever-popular Penguin Park, which will cause a partial shutdown of the play areas.
Erica Flad, senior landscape architect for Kansas City Parks and Recreation, said two of the three play areas at Penguin Park will receive extensive renovation. The $320,000 project includes the new equipment and resurfacing of some play areas.
While some play areas will be closed during construction, the parks department is trying to coordinate the work so at least two of the three play sections are open at all times.
All of the park’s signature animals will remain, but some old playground equipment will be replaced by new, more inclusive and accessible pieces. The middle play area also is getting a large net climber.
“This will help the park keep up with some national playground trends,” Flad said.
The rubberized play surface will be removed in favor of turf, which has a longer life-expectancy — a must at arguably the city’s most popular park.
“The rubberized surfacing is a good surface, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t actually hold up as long as the equipment,” Flad said. “The park currently has patches where our crews have tried to repair it through the years.”
The turf is expected to last about 15 years compared with 8 to 10 years for the rubberized surface.
While the work is contingent on the weather, playground installation at Penguin Park is expected to start in mid-March and be completed before summer.
The Penguin Park project is funded through a Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) grant which neighbors from the Sherwood Estates Homes Association secured.
Marty Schuettpelz, the association’s vice president, said it is important to people in the area that the heavily used park stay well-maintained.
“All you have to do anywhere up north is say ‘Penguin Park’ and they know immediately where you are,” Schuettpelz said. “That’s a key spot up here. You could call it a landmark. It’s been used by people over the years, and has brought a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people. We’re trying to keep it that way.”
The Sherwood Estates Homes Association also secured PIAC funding to help dredge a lake in parkland on the south side of the neighborhood, which has perennially caused mosquito problems. The dredge already has been completed.
It is part of a larger vision for the area to build a connector trail from Penguin Park all the way to Chouteau Trafficway. Funding is not yet available for that part of the project.
Two other playgrounds are also being installed around Kansas City North this spring, one is a new play area at the Line Creek Community Center. Construction is nearly complete on that new facility.
The third play set being installed is at Winwood Park, which is east of Interstate 35 from the Penguin Park location.
Currently, the park only has two toddler swings in the play area. The old play set was completely removed last summer.
“It was removed for safety issues,” Flad said. “If something gets damaged and we can’t order a replacement, sometimes we have to take it out because they don’t make it any more.”
The Winnwood-Sunnybrook Community Council has been working on the PIAC funding for that project during the last two years. They were awarded $30,000 for swings last year and were awarded $200,000 for the playground this year.
The Winwood Park playground will be moved from its original location to a site with more space on the other side of the parking lot. It will also include a rope climber/slide structure, overhead climbers and new swings.
“The neighborhood definitely wanted a lot of climbing stuff geared towards older kids,” Flad said.
Installation on the Winwood Park play area is scheduled to start Feb. 14.