Church Hill considering options for ADA-compliant playground at Derrick Park

Jeff Bobo • Oct 3, 2019 at 8:30 PM

CHURCH HILL — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen plans to purchase ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) playground equipment for Derrick Park, but postponed approval at its Sept. 17 meeting to take a closer look at its options.

One option considered during the meeting was a swing apparatus that would attach to an existing piece of playground equipment.

That option, which costs about $1,200, would serve one wheelchair-bound child at a time. The child would roll his or her wheelchair onto a platform.

“There’s the base swing that comes with the chains that attach to the top,” City Recorder Josh Russell told the BMA. “There’s a pull chain accessory, and that hooks to the bottom of the platform and to the top of the rail, and the person is able to push back and forth to try to swing.”

A motion to purchase that piece of equipment was made by Alderman Keith Gibson, who is spearheading the effort to bring ADA  playground equipment to Church Hill’s parks.

However, Gibson withdrew his motion after two other options were presented to the BMA, including a standalone piece for $1,800, as well as a “three-bay” standalone piece for about $4,200.

Other board members liked the bigger piece as well, including Mayor Dennis Deal, who said he felt it offers more for children and is not too expensive. In fact, Deal said the city might want to purchase two of them.

BMA members had several questions that have to be answered before approval is given to buy an ADA-compliant playground item.

There were questions about the need for a concrete foundation, ramps and other required installation prep to support the new equipment.

Alderman Michael Bell expressed concern about liability.

“I can see 10-, 12-, 14-year-old boys jumping on it, trying to ride it and pull the chain — get flipped out of it,” Bell said.

Russell said, “We could put a sign up to say please respect this equipment. It’s reserved for those who need wheel accessible. But as far as liability, if someone were to use the equipment, and they did not need it, and they were to get injured that way, I would say our insurance would severely scrutinize it.”

Alderman Tom Kern suggested that the city post signs urging the public to reserve use of that equipment for handicapped individuals only, to decrease wear and tear and the possibility of vandalism.

Russell told the Times News Wednesday that he expects to have an ADA playground equipment update for the BMA at its next meeting on Oct. 15, including cost and installation prep requirements.

“I'd like to see it in all our parks, especially in our main parks. Behind Food City, North Central would be good locations,” Deal said. “Then we could at least tell these folks what’s got handicapped (equipment). You can go to this park or that park and use this equipment. We’re not talking about a great deal of money.”

Deal added, “I can’t imagine a child out there who wants a swing and can’t because he’s handicapped.”