COLUMBIA — Andrew Krall said he thinks the playground at Eugene Field Elementary School is boring.
”I remember when there was a twisty slide and monkey bars,” the 10-year-old fifth-grader said at school on Tuesday while preparing to rehearse for the holiday concert. “I don’t know where they went.”
Some of the playground equipment at the school, on Range Line Street south of Business Loop 70, was displaced this year by a new mobile classroom. But Field students can expect a new playground within the next few months after the City Council authorized an agreement with Columbia Public Schools on Monday night that will set the project in motion.
The playground will be funded primarily by Columbia’s quarter-cent park sales tax and is part of a program that’s been in place since 1998. The Annual City/School Park improvement project has helped fund 11 city school playgrounds and city parks, spending $15,000 on each of them.
After getting the money from the city, the school district must agree to four conditions. The playground must be open to the public at all reasonable times when not in use for school activities. Also, the school must present its plans and specifications to the city for approval and build the playground according to plan. Finally, the school must agree that the city cannot be held liable for any claims that might result from injuries or property damage on the playground.
City Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said he likes the program.
“This has been a very positive program as a joint program between the Columbia Public School District and the city. It’s a win-win situation for both,” Hood said.
In 2000, Field Elementary was part of the same program and received playground equipment designed for children in pre-school through second grade.
With the new infusion of cash, the school plans to build what can be described as the standard playground, said Assistant Principal Troy Hogg. He also mentioned that the school hopes to relocate the playground in order to have a central location for all the students at recess.
Andrew, the fifth-grader, said he’d like to see a new slide at the school because he really enjoys going up and down it. Another fifth-grader, 11-year-old Cameron Ivey, also had some suggestions.
“Make it so more kids are occupied,” Cameron said. “I want a jungle gym and stuff with climbing.”
Teachers at Field are as excited about the playground as students are.
“They were so creative on that jungle gym,” playground supervisor Kathy Edes said, referring to the old playground. “The kids really used their imagination.”
The new playground will not only benefit the students of Field Elementary but also community members such as those involved with the Boys and Girls Club, which is near the school.
“It’s a great addition to not only the school, but the community, too,” said Hogg. “It’s just great that we are going to have safe equipment.”
Work on the playground should begin in the spring and continue through the summer.