Jennifer Wilson, president of the Buchanan Elementary School PTA, said she decided to speak to the Board of Supervisors Friday because she wanted to emphasize how important the school playgrounds are, and how much need there is to replace many of the aging equipment.
Wilson spoke during the Public Comment Period and thanked the supervisors for a decision they would make later in the meeting when they approved cost-sharing expenditures that provided $10,000 to replace equipment at one of Buchanan Elementary’s playground areas.
“This barely scratches the surface of playground needs,” she told the board. She said there are pieces of equipment that have caution tape on them because they are rusty and in need of repair or replacement.
She said the county’s proposed capital improvement plan for Recreation, Parks, Greenways and Blueways (detailed in last week’s Herald) seems to have a lot of funding going to Greenfield Recreation Park.
“I’m asking for a capital improvement commitment to our playgrounds,” she said.
Wilson said the $20,000 playground replacement at Buchanan Elementary is a 20×20 area, and playgrounds cost thousands of dollars when she asked the supervisors to “consider our rural areas for parks and recreation spending.”
Her plea was not totally lost on the supervisors or Parks and Facilities Director Jim Farmer. After the supervisors approved six projects (including two playgrounds) for Recreation Incentive Fund dollars, they also approved spending $8,000 in incentive funds that weren’t used to help with school playground maintenance in combination with other school dollars.
Supervisor Mac Scothorn said the county needs to chip away at the urgent needs on playgrounds. Farmer said a consultant study $80,000 in maintenance needs on playgrounds, and by having the schools take over some maintenance obligations on shared facilities at the schools, they’re “making a dent in it.”
The supervisors agreed to spend $26,861 of the $35,000 that was budgeted in the current fiscal year for the matching funds program.
Four of the projects are at schools and two are in town parks.
More than a third of the money ($10,000) will be used to fund the $20,860 project to remove the more than 30-year-old pre-kindergarten and kindergarten playground equipment and swings and replace them with a new, safer playground equipment at Buchanan Elementary School.
A similar playground project at Colonial Elementary School was also approved for funding. The incentive fund will provide $8,386 as half the cost of replacing the more than 20-year-old playground apparatus with modern, age-appropriate and ADA compliant equipment. The total project cost is $16,773.
The supervisors also approved providing $1,800 toward the $3,600 project to install new dugout roofs on the T-ball field at Troutville Elementary School. The Troutville Athletic Booster Club is handling that project.
Another $225 in matching funds was approved to replace the temporary fencing used on the softball field at Read Mountain Middle School.
The Town of Buchanan will receive $5,000 in matching funds to be used to develop a trailhead and batteau interpretation display at Buchanan Town Park. That $10,964 project is part of the town’s park renovation and revitalization effort and includes constructing a pavilion to cover and protect an historic batteau that’s been donated to the town, along with interpretive signage. The project also includes installing parking blocks in the parking area to maximize spaces.
The supervisors also okayed using $1,450 to help pay for repairs to the paved walking track at Troutville Town Park. The total cost of that project is $2,900.