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City of Jonesboro planning area playgrounds

By Ed Brock

The city of Jonesboro recently selected Marietta-based Southern Playgrounds, Inc. to build its new playground at Massengale Park directly behind city hall on North Avenue. Currently, the park is little more than grass and some picnic tables.

By May, if the park is finished on schedule, it will house slides, swings and play-units shaped like a train, a school bus and a bulldozer. There will also be artificial rocks for climbing and sitting.

"It's going to be a family-oriented park for kids of all ages," said Warren Schlender, president of Southern Playgrounds.

Schlender said his company has been in business for 20 years and is the official distributor of Playworld Systems, Inc. equipment in Alabama and Georgia. They build playgrounds for churches, schools and communities, and Schlender said some of their equipment is in the playground at Jonesboro Methodist Church.

All of the equipment is approved by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association, and Schlender said the units shaped like vehicles "gives the kids a realism."

"It lets their imagination run with what they can do with them," Schlender said.

The $96,000 cost of the custom-designed park is covered by a Community Development Block Grant with no matching funds from the city, Jonesboro City Manager Jon Walker said.

Walker said he hopes the playground will be ready in time for the city's "Jonesboro Days" event on May 14 or by the first weekend in June.

"We'll have an opening ceremony," Walker said.

Another grant-funded playground is being constructed in Riverdale at the Especially for Kids Learning Center on Taylor Road.

Grants from KaBoom!, a non-profit organization out of Washington D.C., and Smart Start Georgia covered most of the $10,000 costs, said Stephanie Kemp, the learning center's program manager.

The learning center received the grant for its efforts to raise the educational standards of the community, she said.

Especially for Kids puts on festivals for the community in the fall and at the end of the school year, Kemp said.

News Daily Staff Writer Justin Boron contributed to this story.