The city of Tyler will use a grant to pay for a new playground at Gassaway Park, as part of a plan to revitalize the little-known neighborhood recreation space.
The City Council is scheduled to accept the grant Wednesday, and the Parks and Recreation Department expects the playground to be completed by the end of September.
The news comes about a year after the city held a community meeting in Gassaway Park to discuss solutions for turning the area from a popular place of illicit activity to a community gathering space that is welcoming for kids.
“This is probably the best-case scenario that we could’ve ever even hoped for,” Leanne Robinette, the senior parks manager for the city, said in an interview Monday.
The city has been offered an $80,000 grant for the project from a national nonprofit called KaBOOM! that specializes in making sure all kids, especially low-income kids, have safe places to play.
This money is separate from the $20,000 grant the park received last year from Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s, and the playground is separate from the new sidewalks and half-court basketball court that the City Council approved in May.
In order to move forward with the KaBOOM! grant, the City Council will need to vote to apply for and accept the grant at its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Tyler City Hall, 212 N. Bonner Ave.
The city will be required to match the $80,000 KaBOOM! grant with $8,500. The match will include money already spent reforesting the park, upgrading the entry, and purchasing benches, picnic tables and trash cans, the Parks and Recreation Department wrote in a memo.
Robinette said the playground would be about 2,500 square feet. She said the full investment in the playground would be closer to $100,000 because a currently unannounced funding partner will put about $20,000 into the project.
“My favorite thing about this project is the fact that when we go into design day, they will have a design day and design hour for kids to draw up their dream play area and their dream play space,” Robinette said.
Additionally, Robinette said the unnamed funding partner specifically advocated for providing shade structure above the playground. Not all public playgrounds have equipment to shield kids from the sun, she said.
Robinette said there would be a design day for the park at the end of July, and the playground will be open at the end of September. To put up the structure, there will be a community build that includes neighbors and volunteers.
“I am so excited,” Robinette said. “It’s really just heartening to kind of see people in this community that actually want to help.”
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