By Conrad Dudderar
The clock is ticking on an estimated $1.2 million upgrade to a Yukon inclusive playground.
Yukon has until August 2023 to complete a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) project to install new playground equipment and a splash pad water feature at Freedom Trail Playground, 2100 S Holly.
“I’m hoping that within six months we’ll start seeing dirt move,” Yukon Park Maintenance Director Claudia Krshka said.
The city council has approved an agreement with the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department for the project.
In 2019, the City of Yukon in 2019 was awarded a $400,000 federal LWCF grant for the Freedom Trail project. But work was delayed due to COVID-19.
Planning Design Group of Tulsa has been hired for project design and construction services. The company will be paid $87,500.
Other estimated fees are for surveying ($7,500), construction testing ($10,000) and burying electrical lines ($30,000).
All these set fees and a $75,000 construction continency are part of the $1.2 million project budget.
This major upgrade to Freedom Trail Playground will come 25 years after it was built, primarily by volunteers. A contractor will be used this time.
Plans call for the updated inclusive playground to be 132 feet by 152 feet with a “pour in place” or turf surface.
A local committee that includes original Freedom Trail committee members will help the project consultant design this “new” playground, according to Krshka.
The award-winning Freedom Trail was one of only two all-inclusive playgrounds when it opened in 1996.
Krshka previously explained why it was time to update Freedom Trail Playground and build a second Yukon splash pad.
“This park should be a place where Yukon citizens of all ages and abilities can play without barriers alongside one another,” the park maintenance director said.
“They should not have to leave their hometown to find a playground that accommodates their needs. This playground was fantastic when it was built. But inclusivity has broadened in 25 years, and what is needed has broadened.”
Also over the past quarter century, Freedom Trail Playground has deteriorated and now requires significant maintenance. Many pieces of broken equipment cannot be replaced or repaired.
An inclusive playground is for everyone, Krshka said, regardless of a person’s “limiting factors” or whether their impairment is visible.
“A playground should allow someone to celebrate their abilities, not be reminded of their disabilities – both physically and socially,” she added.
Krshka believes a new splash pad next to Freedom Trail Playground in Yukon City Park will increase quality of life and generate sales tax revenue for Yukon.
Yukon’s first splash pad, which opened in May 2014 at Sunrise Park, is typically packed when it’s open.
The City of Yukon has received the first half of a $4.9 million federal stimulus allocation.
The city council approved budget amendments establishing an American Resource Plan Act (ARPA) Fund for fiscal year 2021-22.
Some $2.452 million will be placed into the city’s capital improvements account from the ARPA of 2021.
City officials have earmarked this federal aid to replace outdated water and sewer lines.
ARPA is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill designed to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing recession.