New Playground of Dreams opens in Arlington
By Michael Waddell
Arlington’s new Playground of Dreams has opened at Hughes-College Hill Park near the historic Depot Square area of town.
The original Playgrounds of Dreams, built on the same spot in 2006, was torn down in March after becoming dilapidated and being declared unsafe.
“The original playground was built with community pride, effort and money, and it was such an anchor to the community. It was tough for everyone to see it taken down,” Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman said during opening of the new playground Friday. “So we’re really excited to see it rebuilt. It’s beautiful, and it blends in well with the community. We’re just proud of the work that everybody put into it.”
The estimated cost of the new playground is about $400,000, and the project came together quickly since the beginning of this year.
“The timeline is important because it’s astronomical that the town was able to achieve what it’s done in such a short period of time,” Town Administrator Cathy Durant said.
The new playground features nine slides, a designated tot lot and tot swings, a jungle gym section and large shaded areas for hot days.
“The rope feature in the middle is a new feature for us,” Durant said. “And the musical instruments are advanced and are really important to us because we want interaction from children of all abilities. Sound is good for children who won’t necessarily be able to climb to the top of the tall towers.”
The playground is designed to last 30 years.
In January, the town’s park department suggested the former Playground of Dreams be closed due to unsafe conditions, and the following month the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to have it torn down. After the park was torn down in March, aldermen the next month chose a final design for the new playground by Miracle Playgrounds.
Grinder Taber & Grinder prepared the site for new construction, and installation began in early June. The playground’s footprint measures 150 feet by 70 feet.
Pickets with nameplates for local families, bricks with donor names and hand-drawn art tiles from the previous playground were saved to create a memorial wall, designed by Ferocious Graphics.
“We salvaged the pickets from the fence, we salvaged the tile from a tile wall, and we left the bricks in place and worked around them in creating the new playground,” Durant said.
<strong>Children enjoy an afternoon swing at the rebuilt Playground of Dreams in Arlington on Friday, July 12. The new playground features nine slides, a designated tot lot and tot swings, a jungle gym section and large shaded areas for hot days.</strong> (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)
Children enjoy an afternoon swing at the rebuilt Playground of Dreams in Arlington on Friday, July 12. The new playground features nine slides, a designated tot lot and tot swings, a jungle gym section and large shaded areas for hot days. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)
Several Arlington town officials – including the mayor, all the town’s board of aldermen members, and members of the parks and recreation and public works departments – were on hand to celebrate the opening Friday.
“Our parks committee and staff took all of the community input to ensure that we preserve the nostalgia of the original park and to make sure it’s something we can be proud of for years to come,” Wissman said. “No matter where we put a playground in town, this is the one that people think of. It brings people here from other communities.”
Several members of the committee to build the original playground in 2006 were on hand for the event, including Vice Mayor Harry McKee and resident Jennifer Walls, who lives next to the park.
“It feels really good to know that the community replaced it,” said Walls, who has four children who have enjoyed the park over the years. “It’s sad to see the other one go down because we put so much work into it, but I like this new park. It’s the same size and the kids can enjoy it.”
Because the playground sits adjacent to Walls’ property, one of her sons spent part of his early childhood thinking the park belonged to them and would ask his mom, “Why are those people using our park?”
A group of more than 150 volunteers completed construction of the original playground in one week, with a little help from area developers and contractors.