Members of the nonprofit Chastain Park Conservancy are raising money to increase the size of the park playground fourfold while adding some “fairly adventurous” activities for older children.
“The playground that is there right now is about 12 or 13 years old, and covers about 10,000 square feet of space with a hodgepodge of equipment for all ages and abilities,” said Jay Smith, vice chairman of the conservancy. “What will make the new playground special is that it will have several discreet play pods appropriate for different age groups.”
Smith said younger children will have access to a safe and secure part of the redesigned, 40,000-square-foot playground where they can play without risk of injury. As they grow older, they can advance to other play pods that Smith described as “fairly adventurous” with features like zip lines, racing slides, a treehouse and climbing materials.
Smith said the hope is that the playground will be of interest to all children and provide a safe place that’s challenging enough to make them want to come back.
The playground campaign, called “Walk and Play,” is part of an overall 20-year master plan that also includes safety renovations to the walking paths.
When the conservancy members learned that 85,000 children live within a 5-mile radius of the park that serves about 1 million visitors annually, they decided there was a shortage of playground space in the area. Also, a survey discovered that the existing playground was the fifth most popular attraction at the park, which also includes a golf course and amphitheater.
The conservancy also points to a Georgia State University study that found park users are about 60 percent white and 40 percent Hispanic, African-American and Asian. “It’s a wonderful melting pot,” Smith said.
The playground’s cost is $2.8 million. So far, the group has quietly raised nearly $2 million. The city of Atlanta pledged funds to build a restroom facility.
Smith said he believes the group has sufficient funds to go ahead and break ground this summer, and will probably be able to get 75 percent of the work done. “If the playground is going to be successful, the work will never end,” he said.