HOPKINTON — The Town Council has approved an application for a $400,000 large recreation grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to upgrade the outdated playground at Crandall Field.
Town Planner James Lamphere, who prepared the funding application, told the council at its Nov. 18 meeting that the playground needed an equipment upgrade and would also have to be moved to another location on the field.
“It was built in 1993 out of wood and we all know what happens with wood over 27 years, especially pressure-treated wood,” he explained. “It has a tendency to warp, split, crack. It’s time to upgrade it.”
The town has paid just under $8,000 to Crossman Engineering of Warwick to design the proposed new playground.
Using funds other than those provided by the grant, the town would demolish the existing playground, which is in a wetter section of the field, and build a new playground in another area where one of two tennis courts is now located.
“The plan is to take this tennis court here, there are two of them and they’re lightly used, and remove the surface and put the playground right there,” Lamphere explained, pointing to a map. “There will be a 10-foot wide stone dust path from the playground over to the parking area. There will be drainage put underneath the playground.”
Working with the Recreation Commission, Hopkinton Recreation Director Mary Sawyer decided on the new playground equipment, which will occupy a 96-by-61-foot section of the park.
Lamphere said, “It has various rope-climbing features, it has a merry-go-round, swings, tot swings. It has two slides, one’s a double slide, rock-climbing features.”
The only change Lamphere said he would make to the Crossman plan would be to increase the playground's accessibility.
“I feel as though maybe we could beef it up just a little bit with a couple of access points for people with disabilities,” he said. “I don’t believe the whole facility has to be accessible to people with disabilities. It’s kind of impossible to do that with some of the things that we have there. But I think, because of the way DEM scores these things based upon access, we might tweak it a little bit more to get more access in there."
Lamphere asked the council to approve the master plan for the playground as well as the grant application. The project, he said, has an estimated cost of $361,830, but it would be advisable to apply for $400,000 since the work could end up costing more, he said.
“Quite often bids come in much higher than cost estimates, so we have to be prepared for that,” he said.
The DEM grant, if approved, would fund 80 percent of the cost and the town will be responsible for the rest.
Finance Director Brian Rosso informed the council that $50,000 for the project had already been set aside over two years in the town’s capital budget. If the state grant is approved, construction would begin in 2020.