Input from kids sought on Valplayso park plan
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent January 29, 2014 11:50AM
Area children are being asked for their ideas to revamp Valplayso. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: March 3, 2014 3:44PM
VALPARAISO — On Thursday, all the children in Valparaiso elementary schools — public or private — will have their say about the new Valplayso park.
And later that day, a conceptual plan based on their ideas will be unveiled from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School gym.
“Every child will have a chance to give some input,” said Kaye Frataccia, who is co-chairing the event.
The revamping of what has always been a community-designed-and-constructed park should be complete in October, on the 20th anniversary of when it was built east of Roosevelt Road on the south side of Glendale Boulevard.
Although a consultant and facilitators will work with each grade level on Thursday morning, the work began before winter break.
Volunteers went to all the elementary schools with sheets for the students to use to design their ideal park.
Frataccia said she’d heard from parents who said that if students couldn’t draw what they had in mind, they would staple a picture of it to the sheets.
Thursday’s presentation will be a preliminary concept, and a Monday meeting with those representing special-needs kids has to be rescheduled because of the weather.
One part of the plan is for the playground section be made accessible to children with disabilities as well as to parents with strollers.
“We can’t put in everything that’s asked for, but we’re going to try and make it accessible to everybody,” Frataccia said.
They will also keep as many of the original clay handprint impressions from kids who built the first version, but this time they will have laser etchings of children on plaques, as well as scan codes, so visitors with smartphones can use those phones to watch videos of the kids.
A plan to install a monitor was deemed impractical.
Although some stormwater improvements in the new Valplayso will receive public money, the rest of the $1 million project will be privately funded.
Of that $1 million, about half the money is budgeted for the playground, and the balance for the rest of the park.
After Thursday, fundraising, construction planning and finding more volunteers will become the focus.
In other park board business, the lease of Creekside Golf Course to a private firm was again delayed as technical details get worked out.
Parks Director John Seibert said that he will have a contract by February’s Park Board meeting, or they may delay, rebidding it next year.
However, it’s probable that American Golf Management will get the contract once technical matters like a performance bond get worked out.
PGA pro Mat Blair has already put his instructors in place, and they’ve gotten good customer reviews, golf superintendent Rich Frey said.
The Mat Blair Golf Academy will stay on for programming even if Blair’s company doesn’t get the contract this year.