Playground Park, at Lippitt and Sinclair, had been a public area since the neighborhood arose in the ‘50s and ‘60s. But it had fallen into disrepair over time. With a resurgence of families to the area in the ‘90s, the need for a child-friendly playground park was apparent.
Discussions began in 2000, led by Christine Rogers and Jessica Bryant, whose efforts enabled the park area’s inclusion in the 2006 bond election, which passed. Somehow the Eastwood area was not included. Rogers lobbied city council member Sheffie Kadane for some of the funding to be re-directed to Eastwood.
But the park idea had some vocal opponents. Even though nearly 70% voted for the park at an Eastwood Homeowners Association meeting (the name changed in 2016), a canvassing of homes was demanded. A group of Eastwood park proponents including Rogers, Ellen Zimmerman, Julie Fisk, Ashlie McGill, Connie Hawes, Tesa Golden, and Melissa Hyde went door to door getting signatures. This re-vote also showed an overwhelming yes with 72% in favor.
A diverse committee formed to design a park benefitting all residents of Eastwood and addressing voiced concerns. It included Rogers, Michael Parkey, D’J Perkison, Jeff Good, Vel Hawes, Darrell Wood, and Susan Justus, not a neighbor, but willing to share her knowledge gained from pursuing a master’s degree from the Landscape Architecture Program at UTA. Perkison and Good donated more than $10,000 of their time in creating the architectural plans and construction documents
Pictured at right: Michael Parkey, Eastwood Riparian Committee; D’J Perkison, landscape architect; Christine Rogers, playground coordinator; Susan Justus, landscape architecture student; Sheffie Kadane, city councilman
But it wasn’t until late 2007 when the project was given official city approval. Two raised-dirt berms channeled rainwater and added landscape interest. A custom designed water fountain included water for pets. The city’s forestry department donated and helped plant seventeen 15 to 20-gallon trees. Equipment in green, brown and black, decomposed granite pathways and wood-looking boardwalks, all enabled the playground to merge naturally with the park.
The goal was to create a new kind of playground that propels kids to use their imaginations, spur creative thinking and invent new ways of playing, all while interacting peacefully with nature. Climbing rocks provided a natural appearance, and the open climbing net prevented obstructed views (a safety concern). All equipment selected had to pass the city’s 20-year shelf-life requirement.
Playground Park opened in November 2009. Plans include more recreation for two to four-year-olds, a butterfly garden, and more ways for adults to enjoy the park.