EVERETT — The fading colors and the aging slides, swings and tubes of Forest Park’s playground are up for an overdue overhaul in the next several months.
Over time, Everett’s largest park has steadily updated some of its features, notably the Rotary Centennial Water Playground in May 2013. Its terrestrial playground at 205 Park Road in Everett is next in line with a $900,520 project.
The playground was last renovated in 1997, when it was rededicated on Independence Day. Such equipment usually gets replaced every 15 years, the city said. Forest Park’s tiny stationary backhoe, ladders, monkey bars, blue plane with eyes and a smile that rocks back and forth on springs, seesaw, slides, steps, swings and tubes were ready for retirement.
The new play systems will be updated and upgraded to be accessible and inclusive.
“As playgrounds age they require more maintenance to keep them functioning properly and compliant with current guidelines and standards,” said Bob Leonard, assistant director of Everett Parks and Community Services, in an email. “Funding challenges in the past delayed our typical replacement schedule.”
Forest Park was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Parts also were developed during that time by the Hall Family in the style of an English garden with holly and laurel, decorative ivy and ornamental conifers. Long ago there was a full-fledged zoo.
Today it features an animal farm, covered picnic areas, fields, halls that can be rented, the playgrounds, a pool, sport courts and trails. The long-term future of the petting zoo is in doubt.
The city does not count its park or playground visitors. But city staff said it is thought to be the busiest playground owned by Everett.
“On any day people can be seen on the playground, and during times of good weather the playground probably serves hundreds of users every day,” Leonard said.
That proved true during a recent dreary, wet afternoon in late December, when two families hopped out of their cars for a damp romp on the slides and swings.
Existing playground equipment did not have any structural problems, Leonard said. A reason why is the schedule for maintenance staff inspections and two National Parks and Recreation Association certified playground safety inspectors, he said.
The playground and the surrounding wood chips will be removed. Separate play systems for children between 2 and 5 and 5 and 12 years old, slides, swings and climbing, spinning and tactile equipment will be installed.
Artificial turf or rubber tiles, which cushion falls better and require less maintenance, will replace the wood fiber. Combined with ramps and ground-level gear, the equipment and space is intended to be more accessible for people who have a disability.
There were 1,095 children younger than 18 in Snohomish County who received disability benefits in 2018, according to the Social Security Administration.
Since 2010, playground equipment and facilities that are built or renovated must adhere to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Leonard said all Everett Parks playgrounds meet National Parks and Recreation guidelines, American Society of Testing Materials standards and ADA requirements.
Landscape Structures, based in Minnesota, designed the replacement playground and will provide and install the equipment, once the contract with the city is completed. The company has playground equipment at several City of Everett parks.
The playground will close this winter for up to four months, depending on weather. Leonard said it should reopen by Memorial Day.