2nd August 2017- By Claire Kowalick
Thanks to the Wichita County Medical Alliance, Wichita Falls will soon have the first public playground in the city in more than five years.
During the Tuesday Wichita Falls City Council meeting, members of the WCMA spoke to councilors, saying they have been working for more than five years to bring this project to fruition.
The WCMA wanted to add an artistic, modern, and functional piece of equipment to Hamilton Park, which the WCMA calls “Doctors’ Park,” that would be both attractive to look at and fun to play on. Hamilton Park was chosen for its central location within the city. WCMA has planted more than 100 trees at Hamilton Park.
WCMA member Amber Schacter said they wanted to address the needs for a safe, shaded play structure and found a perfect fit with the Playworld, Playform 7 model. This creation was designed to be safe for a wide range of children’s ages and has a shaded top, necessary for those hot Texas days. The project aids the city’s goal of providing a variety of recreational spaces along the Circle Trail.
The group said it also works with the Wichita County Health Coalition to find ways to address the problem of obesity in the area by offering places for families to be physically active.
Total cost of the playground project was about $160,000.
City council gave the group a hearty approval to continue work in this project. City Manager Darron Leiker said during this tough budget time, public-private collaborations like this are what the city needs to continue to grow and provide great quality of life amenities. Leiker said because city dollars are tight, without the WCMA’s generous offer, this playground likely would not happen.
The WCMA hosted events to benefit the playground project including a special night at The Yard Food Truck Park and a Cocktail Party for the Playground Project at Ganache Cupcake Lounge, both in May.
Wichita Falls will be the first city in North Texas to install a Playworld playground. It will have a 60-child capacity where little ones can jump, slide, climb and explore. The piece will rest on connecting foam-rubber tiles for added safety.
Parks and Recreation Director Jack Murphy said he is excited about the playground, and it’s exactly what they were wanting to offer along the Circle Trail. It will be close to the trail, restrooms, and a large parking lot.
Schacter said it will be another couple of months to order parts and construct the playground. They hope to have it complete by early fall.