Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Some WOW perspective

If you want a bit of perspective regarding the repairs needed for the World of Wonder playground, look no further than the numbers Kent Kilpatrick, the interim director of Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services, passed on to me.

Kilpatrick said that most of the area's playgrounds typically cost $75,000 to $100,000 built new, meaning that spending $58,000 for maintenance - just four years after WOW was built - is unheard of. In fact, he said that Leisure Services would most likely opt to completely replace the playground rather than spend such a high amount of money for repairs so soon.

Given that this project was community driven and primarily funded with private dollars and then turned over to Leisure Services to manage, this entire thing is a wreck. For something that wasn't supposed to be a burden on the community, it's likely to cost taxpayers close to $250,000 since 2004 ... for one park.

Again, process that ... a privately funded park is now costing taxpayers twice as much as other parks.

Kilpatrick added that annual repairs and maintenance for other parks, which are built with steel, run less than $1,000 per year.


Blogger Nicki said...

Ok, I won't leave it at my previous comments, then. I worked on one of the other components of the park when WOW was raising money and so on. We all participated in the community visioning process in which we allocated funds to resources and so on. And the top priorities never included WOW. If I recall properly, the top priorities were always dog park, skate park, and either frisbee golf or zero-rise water play area. WOW was never in the top three. Which makes a lot of sense, because WOW is cool, but is not really as novel as depicted. For example, there is a public playground just a mile or two away. Whereas the other facilities would be unique (everything but frisbee golf, which I think was never seriously considered because there are several others).

Never mind, said the WOW folks, we'll raise our own money. Which they did fairly well in the initial stages. But then things got ugly. More money ended up being designated to the ball parks than was originally anticipated (because there were some changes in material costs for infrastructure -- lights, parking, etc.). And suddenly the other groups were getting tipped off by those who were running the project that WOW was in fact campaigning to receive more money, which they wanted to see taken from the other initiatives. Which the other initiatives did compromise on, but not without a lot of entitled, nasty attacks on their constituent groups.

Both the skate park (which was planned to be roughly double its current size) and the dog park (which originally had way more people-centric amenities) were scaled back, and more money was given to WOW. But what annoys me is the attitude that underpinned the request for more money. It was very much like they were entitled to WOW and their cause was unimpeachable because they were representing the children, and the other groups were full of shiftless, selfish criminals who just wanted to take from children for our own selfish interests. When in fact we were all doing what we are entitled to do as citizens to participate in the process of creating the park. And we all pay taxes. And both the skate park and dog park benefit a much wider cross-section of the ACC citizens than does WOW.

As far as I'm concerned, in other words, WOW wasn't ever a very honorable or nice or realistic group, and it's no surprise that they take no responsibility for the long-term maintenance of their project.

I do have a question, though, because I like the playground once you separate it out from the people who created it. If we invest $58,000, are we making changes that will bring maintenance into line with other projects, or are we expecting to see $58,000 expended every few years?

9:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home