PENDLETON
Three parks losing playgrounds

An orange construction barrier surrounds the play structure at Vincent Park on Monday in Pendleton.

The city of Pendleton is sending letters to homes near Vincent, Aldrich and May parks, notifying residents that the playgrounds at those parks are closed.

Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Cook said his department closed the playgrounds two weeks ago and will eventually dismantle the equipment.

Cook attributed the closures to more stringent government requirements and aging equipment.

According to Cook, former playground mainstays like concrete floors, teeter totters, merry-go-rounds and spring horses are no longer allowed under modern regulations.

Replacing the playgrounds with more modern equipment isn’t an option either — Cook said even low-end playground sets cost between $10,000-$11,000, and there’s not enough room in the parks budget to cover those costs.

Although the city could conceivably tap into special revenue like the parks trust fund to buy new equipment, Cook said that would give the parks department less flexibility if it needed to cover any other unexpected costs.

While Cook is looking into grants that could be used to buy new playgrounds, they’re not likely to be immediately replaced after they’re dismantled.

Community members have rallied behind playgrounds before, like when volunteers and civic groups rebuilt the Pioneer Park playground after a 2012 arson.

But not every park has a constituency. Vincent and Alrich parks are in the northernmost residential areas in Pendleton the North Hill and May Park is on SE Isaac Ave. near the CAPECO office.

Cook said the parks department reached out to the residents surrounding May Park several years about potentially adding improvements and received little feedback.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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