By Fran Maye
New playground equipment will be installed at the 106-acre Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square next week, and it will be ready for use April 8.
Much of the funding came from the Longwood Rotary Club’s $50,000 donation. New playground equipment will be installed and located to the north of the existing restroom at the park.
“We’re bettering the community with this project,” said George Gower, Longwood Rotary Club president. “This has been a need, and we are making a better place for local citizens.”
About 30 people, all volunteers, will assemble the playground equipment, led by local contractor Gary Alltoonian. The new playground will contain all handicapped-accessible play equipment and have accessible routes from the parking area to restrooms.
The old playground was located in a flood plain and it was obsolete and likely would not pass safety guidelines this year.
The new playground is the first step in a major redesign of the park scheduled to take place over a 10-year period. The master plan calls for improvements totaling $2.1 million.
Those improvements include:
Dog Park: The master plan proposes a new dog park in the southwest corner of the park. The dog park is proposed above the Red Clay Creek, situated mostly in a gently sloping lawn area and into the edges of the existing woodland. The ¾-acre acre will be fenced with a four-foot tall chain link fence. A water line will be run to the dog park for pet and owner drinking. A dog waste bag station and instructional signage will be part of the park.
Basketball court: The two existing basketball courts will be relocated to the east side of the overflow parking lot and it will have a new playing surface.
Tennis courts: The tennis courts will be relocated to the lower central area of the park in the current location of the basketball courts.
Volleyball courts: The plan proposes to relocate the two sand volleyball courts to the west side of the overflow parking area, close to the former main entrance to the park.
Parking: A new parking area will accommodate approximately 65 vehicles and a new overflow parking area. The overflow pa4rking area will be a stabilized turf lot that will accommodate approximately 45 vehicles. The plan recommends basic improvements to the existing central parking lot including the creation of handicapped-accessible parking spaces, signage and tree planting on the perimeter of the lot. These changes will provide about 360 total parking spaces for the entire park.
New access roads: The creation of a new vehicular entrance on North Walnut Road, at the present location of the pedestrian access, will be created for better sight lines into traffic. Additionally, the current southern-most vehicular entrance on the same road will be converted to a pedestrian only access point.
Disc golf: The current disc golf course will remain, but hole 18 will be modified to accommodate the new play area.
Pavilions: Existing pavilions will be maintained and there will be some reforestation on steep slopes and open meadows.
Trails: Trails will be enhanced with limited lighting, and many trails will be handicapped-accessible. Maintenance of the trails will continue cost-free by members of the Longwood Rotary Club.
The third and final phase of the park project – assuming grants and private funds are raised -- 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.