11th April 2016

Passersby the Westminster City Park on Thursday may have noticed something awry — the large playground near the tennis courts in various states of being disassembled, packaged up and carted away. Nostalgia for that particular equipment aside, there’s no cause for alarm: City officials plan to have a new and improved playground installed within the next two weeks.

“The old one is torn down to make room for the new one and the new one is going to be state of the art; if something goes wrong we will be able to find parts to fix it,” said Shelly Fulton, the Westminster Department of Recreation and Parks Family Center manager. “We like to do things before they are a safety issue, so this is in the best interest of anyone who uses the Westminster City playground so it continues to be safe.”

People don’t always think about it, but playgrounds, like cars, computers and all our other devices, have a safe operational life span, according to Abby Gruber, director of Westminster Recreation and Parks. It was about two years ago, she said, during an inspection that the city realized it was time to begin planning for a new playground.

“City Park playground is over 20 years old. That’s astounding to people because at a glance the playground doesn’t seem to show its age,” Gruber said.

“Thanks to proper maintenance the equipment has held up very well and has created lots of memories for many children. As with most things playground equipment does not last indefinitely. … When we realized that City Park playground was due for replacement we applied for grant funding through Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Community Parks and Playgrounds Program. We were proud to receive a sizable grant to not only replace the existing equipment but to improve the entire play space.”

That grant was worth $275,000, according to Gruber, and makes up the entirety of the funding for the new playground.

“This project is 100 percent funded by the Community Parks and Playgrounds grant with no matching funds required,” she said.

What the city will get for that grant money is fairly cutting edge. According to Gruber, there is only one other park in Maryland — Laytonia Park, in Gaithersburg — with the play equipment that will soon be erected in Westminster City Park.

“The new playground is going to be amazing. Boasting an array of exciting play opportunities children can look forward to a zip line, a giant spiderweb and oversized ants marching about,” Gruber said. “The focal point of the playground will be an innovative play structure named Branch Out. Reminiscent of a large backyard tree begging to be climbed, this exciting structure offers endless opportunities for play that out paces a conventional playground.”

Weather willing, the construction of the new playground should be complete in about nine days, according to Fulton, though rain or other delays could stretch that window a little bit.

Given the uncertainties of fall construction, and upcoming holidays such as Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, Gruber said an official ribbon-cutting will probably be scheduled for later in November or early December, but families will be able to try out the new attractions as soon as construction is complete.