By Fran Maye
A new playground with $80,000 in equipment will be installed at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square this spring, as the final master plan for park improvements was unveiled last week.
The new playground is included in Phase One of the project. In all, $5.1 million in improvements are planned to the park over the next 10 to 15 years, assuming grants and private funding is acquired.
“We’re looking at applying for grants for many years to come to implement this plan,” said Pete Simone, president of Simone-Collins Architect Co. which designed the plan. “This is not something that will be implemented overnight.”
Funding is in place for the playground, thanks to a $40,000 donation from the Longwood Rotary Club and a matching grant from GameTime of Norristown, maker of the equipment. The playground will include a four-bay area of swings, a four-person buckabout, and two main play systems, one accommodating children ages 2 to 5, the other accommodating children ages 5 to 12. The equipment will be durable, constructed of molded plastic. The larger play area can alone accommodate up to 80 children.
The playground, which will be located north and east of the existing bathroom facility, will be installed by members of the Longwood Rotary Club and volunteers from the community.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to the Longwood Rotary Club,” said Wendy Walker, who helped work on the master plan for the park.
After the playground is installed, Phase Two will begin. This includes a new dog park, a new composting facility next to a community garden, expanded tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, enhanced walkways with limited lighting and expanded parking for 65 more vehicles.
A new main entry to the park will be built off North Walnut Road, which is currently a pedestrian entrance to the park. All other entrances will be pedestrian entrance only.
The two tennis courts will be relocated and expanded to include four courts. The two and volleyball courts will be relocated to where the main entrance is located now and the two basketball courts will be relocated to the east side of the overflow parking lot.
The disc golf course will remain, but hole 18 will be modified to accommodate the new play area.
The master plan proposes a new dog park in the southwest corner of the park. A community survey determined a dog park was one of the top three elements people wanted to see included in a revamped Anson Nixon Park. The other two were a new playground and a new entry for the park.
Trails will be enhanced with limited lighting, and many trails will be handicapped-accessible.
Existing pavilions will be maintained. There will be some reforestation on steep slopes and open meadows and an area near the North Broad Street pedestrian access.
Estimated cost of the planned improvements: Playground: $363,690, active recreation courts: $338,725, new entry drive and expanded parking: $295,997, dog park: $110.375. sanitary sewer connection: $62,500 and community gardens, $55,938.
The final phase includes about $2.5 million to rehabilitate and restore several buildings already on park land. The relocation of the Kennett Square Public Works Facility will permit Kennett Area Parks and Recreation to utilize the existing pole barn and other buildings for a formalized park maintenance area.
Simone said the project could be completed earlier than planned if funding falls into place sooner.
“It’s unlikely with this economy we’ll raise all the money we need in five or six years, but people in the community can talk to their elected officials and maybe they can float a bond issue for recreational space,” he said.