Thursday, January 19, 2017

School and Community Playgrounds: Focus on Safety Surfacing Options

Our focus this month is on providing our clients with the background and benefits of having a good unitary surfacing, along with ideas and tips that will make the implementation process a successful one.  We also would like to highlight Bethel School District in Eugene, Oregon. 

In the spring of 2016, as part of a district wide effort to improve facilities and grounds, Pat Bradshaw, Bethel S.D. Facilities and Grounds Manager and his team, distributed an RFP to replace old, worn-out tiles for three different elementary school playgrounds and have them replaced with new poured-in-place rubber.  Buell Recreation was awarded the project and completed it during July and August while school was out of session.  Bradshaw is representative of a pro-active manager, who recognizes the importance of safe, accessible playgrounds and how a quality unitary surfacing can save on annual maintenance and operation costs.  The Bethel School District resurfacing projects were funded through bond funds obligated towards district wide improvements. The rewards are clearly evident from three aspects: 1) minimizing liability by having a safe, compliant surfacing; 2) saving in labor maintenance costs and freeing staff to focus on other district needs; 3) play value and aesthetics are enhanced for both kids and playground supervisors. 

Unitary surfacing is defined by its characteristics as being one solid, level surface, typically comprised of poured-in-place rubber, rubber tiles, artificial turf or similar product.  Primary benefits of unitary surfacing include ease of access by individuals with mobility challenges and minimal maintenance when compared to loose fill alternatives such as wood fiber, sand or pea gravel surfacing.  Although initial costs of unitary surfacing are considerably more than loose fill, it's important for managers to recognize the overall value to their organization.  To effectively gain internal support required from district fund managers and key decision makers it takes time and effort to accurately determine a return on investment and communicate that message appropriately.  

Let us know if you have concerns or challenges with playground safety surfacing.  We offer complimentary, no-cost, evaluations of your playgrounds to help determine options and associated costs.  Summer is the best time to undertake resurfacing projects for schools, but often times winter is better for city parks.  If you have more than one playground to surface it can be most cost effective to coordinate the installation efforts and do multiple playgrounds at one time. 

 For more information contact