Friday, October 16, 2015

Renovated playground opens thanks to Measure C funding

(Originally published in the 10/16/15 edition of the Herald.)

   Measure C will have its first major project completed on Tuesday- and it’s something the kiddies can enjoy.
   The city of Benicia will be holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new, expanded playground at Benicia Community Park. The playground is the first of 12 projects funded by proceeds from Measure C to be completed.
   Measure C is a revenue measure that was approved by citizens in 2014. The initiative outlines a series of projects aimed to improve the quality of life for Benicians. City Council has set aside $4 million to be put into these projects, which will be funded over the next two years. 
   Economic Development Manager Mario Giuliani says it is very rewarding to see the first Measure C project finished.
   “City staff are working on an accommodating basis,” he said. “But the community only gets to see it once it’s done. This is a nice visual for the community to enjoy the fruits of their labor by voting for Measure C.”
   According to Giuliani, $200,000 went into renovating the Community Park playground. The original structure was built in 1994, and according to Mike Dotson, parks and community services director, the new playground will be more accommodating to the differently abled.
   “Many parts of this new playground are accessible to children with a range of abilities,” he said.
   One of the new structures is the AeroGlider, which Dotson describes as a modern variation on the traditional teeter-totter.
   “That particular item has enough room for wheelchair users and also can accommodate parents if they wish to play in it,” Dotson said. 
   Another new addition to the playground is the Teeter Tunnel, another variation on the traditional see-saw with a tunnel in the center and enough space to allow more than two people to use it.
   “We also have different climbing apparatuses which the previous playground did not have,” Dotson said. “We have multiple areas that the kids can climb on and have active play.”
   Despite these changes, the beloved giant concrete slide from the old park will remain. Dotson said the slide was recently resurfaced and will be ready to open with the new park.
   The new park has generated much excitement from students at Matthew Turner Elementary, which is just across the street. During a recent visit, Dotson says he’s been approached by a lot of people on the progress.
   “School was just getting out, and there were many parents and kids anxiously asking us when it was going to open,” he said. “We love the way it looks, and we’re very happy with the way it turned out.”
   Many other Measure C projects are scheduled to be worked on within the next year, Giuliani said. A replacement of the promenade railing on First Street will be done in January. Repairs of potholes will go before City Council on Tuesday and will be completed between January and March. A repair of downtown sidewalks and replacement of police vehicle cameras will both go before City Council in November.
   Overall, Giuliani says he is pleased that the ball is rolling on Measure C.
   “It’s good that we have the ability to show the voters that the projects described prior to the election are in fact getting done and the city is keeping its promises,” he said.

   The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday at Benicia Community Park, located at 540 Rose Drive. Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and City Councilmembers will be present. 

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