published Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Kimball Park playground proposals sought

Kimball officials are looking to upgrade Kimball Park, including adding a playground to the complex.
Kimball officials are looking to upgrade Kimball Park, including adding a playground to the complex.
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KIMBALL, Tenn. — As the Kimball Park area continues to grow, city leaders are considering installing a new playground inside the Chester Blevins Sports Complex with some of the grant money that remains for upgrades.

Alderman Johnny Sisk, chairman of the city's park board, said that committee has tried to prioritize the potential improvements it could make to the park.

At the top of the list was lighting the complex's four ball fields, and then the park board wanted to build covered dugouts for each field.

With the lighting finished and dugout construction about to begin, a playground for small children is next on their agenda.

"We're trying to find an area close to all of the ball fields, so the parents can let their kids go out and play while still keeping their eyes on them," Sisk said.

The Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously recently to seek requests for proposals from certified playground designers.

Mayor David Jackson said he is not aware of anyone locally who does that kind of work.

"It's not a bad idea," he said. "We just need to be thinking ahead, so we don't waste a bunch of money."

City Attorney Billy Gouger said he has worked with playground designers during litigation he's been involved with over the years.

"There are some in the Chattanooga area who are certified playground engineering designers," he said.

When using a licensed professional like that, Gouger said, the law allows the board to forgo any competitive bidding for the job.

"[Kimball] can have them submit requests for proposals and then choose from among those groups," he said. "The board is free to do that, and then they can negotiate the price."

Sisk said the park board has priced some playground equipment already and the costs are "outrageous."

"It might be something we can't afford," he said. "It's just an idea we had for that area of the park."

Alderman Mark Payne said city administrators must be careful to build something that will pass any likely safety inspections.

"If you build something, and then your safety people come through and say you've got to tear everything down because it doesn't mean anything, what have you done?" he said. "Blown a bunch of money."

Since the playground would be paid for with Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant money, it would have to meet certain guidelines for that, too.

"We want somebody to come in and give us a design of what we can do and give us an idea of how much money it will cost," Sisk said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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