Community playground proposed in King

By Nicholas Elmes -

A group of local citizens is trying to spearhead a community-built playground for Recreation Acres in King.

Ashley Turner presented the idea to the King City Council Monday, saying that she had already formed a committee of locals to “Make a Difference in King” with the goal of first raising funds and support for a community-built playground and eventually to be a force for improvements throughout the city.

Turner said she hoped to contract with a company called Play by Design which helped design and organize community-built playground structures.

“The entire community comes together for an empowering playground build,” she said. “Citizens, organizations, churches, schools and business have a huge impact on the design. The payoff is a permanent transformation of the environment that becomes a priceless symbol of the community spirit behind each project.”

Turner said she hoped the city would allow her community organization to build the proposed playground in Recreation Acres near the existing skate park or where the old wooden play area had been located.

She said the size and look of the playground would be determined by the community.

“That’s the unique part of this,” she said. “We as a community can decide together on that. The sky is the limit. I think it’s important to hear what the kids want rather than what ‘I’ want. What I would love to see is a wide variety of elements provided for all ages.”

She said the size of the playground would depend on how much the community could raise, but noted that any variety of fundraiser could be held toward that goal.

“The ultimate goal is to help the city,” she said. “The community will decide on a budget and from there Play by Design will design a playground with all of the ideas from a design day, unveil to the community a playground design that same evening, provide a materials list and we will raise the funds from there.”

She noted that anyone interested in the project could get involved through the groups Facebook page “Make a Difference in King.”

“We have different committees, each are in charge of overseeing different things,” she said, noting that she hoped that organization would grow to address a number of issues in the city. “Once the community is involved in a community build, it will lead to future positive ongoing projects and cleanups. Get the schools, local groups, organizations, churches and businesses involved to help the city. Not only will it help the city with improvements, cleanups and cub appeal it will help the city save money.”

Turner said she hoped those ongoing efforts could help raise maintenance funds for the proposed playground. She noted that upkeep of the facility could range from $2,000 to $5,000 per year.

“There is the idea of ‘Make a Difference in King’ to raise money every year for these funds,” she said. “To help the city save on these issues. That’s another reason I think it’s important to get this into the school systems and act on it rather than discussing it. It will always help keep everyone current and up to date.

Turner noted that she hoped the initiative would also help the town to address ongoing vandalism issues in city parks.

“During and after the community build process I want to raise awareness to the issues that occur through out King in regards to litter, illegal graffiti, vandalism and ways to help, prevent and change how our community deals with it,” she said.

“I want to build something positive that has all age groups involved,” she added. “People want to take care of what is theirs – it then is a sense of pride and ownership. Funny thing, during my research for this I would visit the skate park and speak to the kids/adults that were there. I encountered two events. One at which I actually called the police (graffiti) – but nothing was ever done – there was proof even a video I found online. That’s our problem. We have to stop this. I have mentioned a gate to close off and more surveillance cameras and park staff (of which Tobaccoville, Mt Airy and Triad Park has). If this plan is approved it can lead to greater future positive projects.

“The kids are our future,” concluded Turner. “Whether it be the kids down the street, your own kids or grand-kids. I am here to help motivate this community in this positive direction. Our kids and our city need a positive movement now and Play by Design can meet those wishes and deadline.”

The King Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee unanimously supported the Make a Difference in King plan on Oct. 20, and Mayor Jack Warren has directed city staff to begin discussions with the organization to start planning what steps need to be taken to make it a reality.

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes

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