Carthage committee advances proposals for parks upgrades

Jan. 1—CARTHAGE, Mo. — Residents could start seeing changes in two of the city's busiest parks in a couple of months pending action by the Carthage City Council.

The council's Public Services Committee last month advanced two proposals for contracts with Park & Play Structures, a company based in Tennessee, to replace playground equipment in Municipal Park and Carter Park for a total of about $1.4 million. The proposals will be considered by the council in January.

The proposals would build new playgrounds with modern structures that will be accessible to most children, including those with limited mobility, in both parks.

The city last month also hired Abi Almandinger, formerly the director of the Vision Carthage committee, to take over as director of parks and recreation. She succeeds Mark Peterson, who resigned in November.

City Administrator Greg Dagnan said he's excited to get the projects moving and see real change in the city's parks.

"Certainly in the first half of 2023, we'll see new playground structures going into Municipal Park and Carter Park," Dagnan said. "That's a very safe bet. The McCune-Brooks Hospital Trust gave us a little over $5 million for phase one and two, and it's been awhile since they gave that to us, so I'm very excited that we're going to move forward with this contract."

Dagnan said the city went with Park & Play Structures because the company can offer a better price for playground equipment.

The company "can give us what's called a state bid; they're a state contractor," Dagnan said. "We didn't just randomly choose them; they get great references, they do a great job and they can provide us with a state bid, which will be less than other bidders could give."

Dagnan said the city will spend approximately $871,000 on the new playground structures at Municipal Park, the city's busiest and highest profile park, and $531,000 for the structures in Carter Park, probably the second-busiest park in the city.

Steve Casada, a recreation consultant with Park & Play Structures, previously came to Carthage and described the proposals for Municipal and Carter parks. He described playground structures and devices that provide a variety of play opportunities to children of all ages and children who have to use mobility devices to help them get around.

"It's all part of that inclusion drive; we want children of all abilities playing," Casada told the Public Services Committee last month. "As you go through and look at the design, we've also developed and added a lot of sensory elements to the playground for children of all different sensory challenges and things such as this. That is extremely important to design and keep that as part of your play area."

He also described what he called sensory panels that make different sounds and are designed to allow children to play together no matter what their physical or other limitations might be.

Dagnan said the council will consider the contracts for the playgrounds at the two parks in January while the Public Services Committee and city staff continue working on proposals for playgrounds at Kellogg Lake Park, Central Park and Griggs Park.

He said construction could start as soon as February, with the existing playgrounds being removed to make room for the new structures. The new playgrounds could be ready for use by May.

The city and committee also plan to work on improving the bathrooms at all five parks, Dagnan said.