By Conrad Dudderar
About 1-1/2 years after Yukon’s all-inclusive playground was closed, visible construction progress has started on the “new” Freedom Trail Playground.
Contractor crews recently started installing new playground equipment at Freedom Trail, 2100 S Holly, which will include a splash pad.
Rudy Construction of Oklahoma City was awarded a $1,682,221.28 contract to install the state-of-the-art play equipment and water spray ground near Mulvey Pond across from Shedeck Elementary School.
An official ribbon cutting ceremony was March 7 for the Freedom Trail Playground upgrade.
Freedom Trail – built by volunteers in the mid-1990s – has been closed since spring 2022 after crews demolished aging play structures and related items.
Some Yukon residents have expressed dismay over delays in this new playground and splash pad project. A completion date is not known.
“While we’d love to give you a precise date, we’re playing it safe this time,” according to a post on the City of Yukon’s Facebook page. “Construction has thrown us a few curveballs, and the delays have been frustrating, both for you and us. We’ll keep you posted on the progress and promise to share the big reopening news the moment we can.”
Rudy Construction’s contract began March 1, and the project was scheduled to be finished within 300 days. The Yukon City Council awarded the bid in December 2022.
A $400,000 Land & Water Conservation Fund grant will cover 23.7% of the total price tag for the new Freedom Trail Playground and Splash Pad.
Awarded to the City of Yukon several years ago, this federal grant is administered through the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
But work was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contractor prices came in higher than expected due to increased costs of supplies and materials, city officials said.
The award-winning Freedom Trail was one of only two all-inclusive playgrounds in Oklahoma when it opened in 1996 at Yukon City Park.
Over the next 26 years, Freedom Trail deteriorated and required significant maintenance. Many pieces of broken equipment couldn’t be repaired or replaced.
An inclusive playground is for everyone – regardless of a person’s “limiting factors” or whether their impairment is visible, according to City of Yukon grant writer Claudia Krshka.
Yukon’s Diana Hale chaired an all-volunteer committee that led construction efforts in the mid-1990s when the original Freedom Trail Playground was built.
Hale participated in the March ground-breaking.
Other original committee members were Carole Garner, Dee Blose, Melody Duty, Charles Brandley, Debbie Cain, and Bob Schwaninger.
Several committee members worked with Yukon city staff and a landscape architect to help design and plan the new Freedom Trail.
Freedom Trail’s new playground will be about the same size as the previous one, Krshka said.
The surface will be a combination of pour-in-place rubber coating and artificial turf.
Freedom Trail’s new splash pad will be the second such spray ground in Yukon. The first opened in May 2014 at Sunrise Park.