Pelham opens new playground and splash pad

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – On the morning of Saturday, May 11, children, parents and city officials gathered at the Pelham City Park for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening of the new playground and splash pad.

As Mayor Gary Waters cut the ribbon with the help of his granddaughter, the gates were opened and children descended upon the shiny, new playground at top-speed, scrambling up ropes and gliding down slides.

One mother, Amanda Griggs, took her son, Tyler, to the playground opening after his morning soccer game and was impressed with the new equipment.

“I think the new park is really nice,” Griggs said. “Tyler loves it and it looks nice. I think it’s good.”

Beside the playground, families escaped the summer heat on the new splash pad. With sprinklers, waterfalls and aptly named water mushrooms, children frolicked in their swim suits as their parents watched.

One little girl was so excited to get in the water that she ran into the splash pad still wearing one of her shoes, while her mother, Victoria Mason, chased her down.

“My baby just had her second birthday yesterday and she loves to be in the water,” Mason said. “This is her element, so what perfect timing. We’ll be here all summer. We live down the road and she loves the water, so it’s perfect.”

According to Waters, his granddaughter also loved the new playground.

“Our kids and our grandkids are the resident experts when it comes to what’s good and what’s not good,” Waters said. “She told me this is the best (playground) she has ever seen and she was glad to help me cut the ribbon on it.”

Waters also wanted to wish a special thank you to the residents of Pelham because without their input, this playground wouldn’t exist.

“If you remember, our city manager fielded a city satisfaction survey,” Waters said. “In that survey, you told us what you wanted. This (park) is the result of you sharing your ideas with the council.”

According to Pelham’s Director of Parks and Recreation Brian Cooper, the whole playground project cost around $2 million dollars for the new bathrooms, parking lot, canopies and playground. The playground itself cost around $1.15 million, but was supplemented by a $250,000 grant from GameTime.

Accessibility was also a huge consideration during this project. Cooper shared that the city wanted to go above and beyond the accessibility requirements to create a playground that can be used by as many of the children in Pelham as possible.

“In terms of the Americans with Disability Act, you have to meet the act, but then you can go up to boundless,” Cooper said. “We are one step below that at inclusive, which means that more out here is accessible to children with disabilities than the law requires. Not just by one step, but two or three steps.”

The two-story tower in one of the playground structures keeps the new playground from the highest level of accessibility, but the other playground structures have special points of access. One slide has a ramp surrounded by netting for children with limited mobility. The merry-go-round is completely level to the ground and has room for a wheelchair and there is a large swing with built-in benches.

“With the options here for the all-inclusive parts of the playground, we can service all the members of our community,” Pelham Council President Maurice Mercer said.

As he looked around at the crowd enjoying the new facility, Mercer shared that he felt a sense of accomplishment for the city.

“When you can put together a time to get behind an idea to make the community a better place for the littlest of our members and see the smiles on all these kids’ faces, it makes you feel good,” Mercer said.

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