Committee swinging for fences with area park

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After. Above is an artist rendering of what the two slides could look like at Concourse Park. Submitted Photo

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Before. Above is what Concourse Park currently looks like. Submitted Photo

By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
July 30, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – As the playground committee gears up for the home stretch of phase one of its park plan, its already getting ready for what’s coming next.

Earlier this year, the playground committee and Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the first phase of a playground near the tennis courts in Concourse Park. Amanda Stinger, chair for the playground committee and board member on the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association board of directors, said phase one is going well and according to plan. Stinger said the committee has received help from KEM Studio, an architecture and industrial design firm in Kansas City, Mo., with the design of the slide and park and will assist with the construction, as well.

“Our goal for completing the slide is before Oct. 18,” Stinger said, adding this phase includes the slide, swings, stairs, boulders for the kids to play on and one more possibility. “Parks [and Recreation officials] came up with the idea determining if there are limestone bluffs on that hill and exposing them on one end if they’re there. Like a natural rock climbing thing for the kids. We don’t know if the bluffs exist though yet.”

Through planning and budget feasibility, Stinger said the area might end up with two slides, each potentially made of different materials. One may be cement and the other stainless steel, while one may also be steeper than the other. In between the two structures, the committee might be able to plant a tree or two.

“What we were originally planning, was a one-person slide because they’re so expensive,” Stinger said. “But we worked with a designer who worked on the Academie Lafayette’s school playground and they completely knocked us out of the water on expectations and what we can do.”

With the help of PIAC funds, private grant and donations and the crowdfunding campaign, the total costs come to about $100,000. Before construction begins on phase one, the committee will take out the basketball courts. Stinger said the courts will return, they’re just being taken out temporarily for the construction. With the design, two more hoops will be added by the end of the project.

“At that time, we’ll move the two hoops to the tennis courts and take out one of the nets so that way we’re never without basketball,” Stinger said. “We’ll grass over that area then, for now.”

To supplement the progress of phase one, Stinger said the committee is also a finalist for a KaBOOM! grant. KaBoom! is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play needed to thrive. The grant, if the committee is awarded the grant, would receive a playground design to-be-determined by the community, three different pieces of adult workout equipment and a mulch surfacing.

“If we get it, we will be building a playground on Oct. 18 on the footprint of the existing basketball courts,” Stinger said, adding when she says building on Oct. 18, the organization means building the playground in one day. “They want to have a ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m. that afternoon.”

Currently, the committee needs at least 100 people to sign-up in support of KaBoom! to show the community is willing to provide the volunteers on Oct. 18, and support the project. Stinger said their goal of 100 sign-ups would be in addition to the 100 volunteers that show up with KaBoom!.

There’s a couple more opportunities available to the committee, one is hosted by Sporting KC to install futsal courts – small soccer fields on hard surfaces – in underserved areas in the city. The other, Stinger said, is with the help of Mattie Rhodes, which is working on a grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation for the renovation of the tennis courts.

“We hope to get one of these grants to cover the tennis-to-soccer conversion,” Stinger said. “The overall vision of the area is to eventually repurpose the four tennis courts into soccer, basketball, tennis and multi-purpose.”

To sign-up to support the KaBoom! grant or to sign-up to potentially volunteer if the committee is awarded the grant, go to www.scarrittkc.org/playground.

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