FREMONT — Just in time for summer vacation, Fremont reopened two playgrounds with new equipment Thursday, and will replace play structures at five more during the next two months.
Construction fences came down just after 1 p.m. at the Kennedy Play Area in Central Park and the playground at Blacow Neighborhood Park. Both playgrounds, which had been closed for the past few months, include new monkey bars, slides and rope-climbing pyramids.
New playground equipment also is being installed this summer at Brookvale Park, California Terrace Mini-Park, Irvington Park, Westridge Neighborhood Park and Karl Nordvik Neighborhood Park as part of Fremont's $1.8 million Citywide Play Equipment Replacement Project.
Equipment at those playgrounds and several more in Fremont had to be replaced because it no longer complied with federal safety guidelines, which have grown more stringent, said Roger Ravenstad, Fremont's landscape architect.
Several of the playgrounds had older equipment that federal regulators frowned upon because there was a chance that children could get their heads trapped between bars.
The city had been replacing railings and other parts of playground structures to keep them up to code, but ultimately determined that the play equipment needed to be replaced, Ravenstad said.
The new playgrounds will have softer surfacing, be more accessible to children using wheelchairs and have more space between structures so children won't fall off one structure and onto another structure.
Most of the equipment is similar to the old playgrounds, Ravenstad said. A few additions include mini-rock-climbing walls, monkey bars that curve and more rope-climbing structures.
Originally, all of the playgrounds were scheduled to be completed by the time school let out, but spring rains delayed the project, which now is scheduled to be completed by the middle of August, Ravenstad said.
Fremont will replace more playground equipment next year, primarily with $2.6 million from the 2008 voter-approved bond Measure WW, most of which went to the East Bay Regional Park District.
Playgrounds slated for new equipment next year are Lowry Park, Rix Park, Peregrine Park, Warbler Park, David Jones Neighborhood Park and the large play area in Central Park, Ravenstad said. The city also plans next year to replace tiny tot lots and Irvington, Centerville and Los Cerritos Community Centers
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. For more Fremont news, read his blog: www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.