Ready for liftoff?
A fighter jet-themed play structure, complete with stars and stripes fitness stations, will soon land at Veteran’s Park on La Serena Way. The playground will feature two separate play areas connected by an exercise equipment-dotted walking path.
The park is one of seven the city is refurbishing with money generated by Measure S, the 1-cent sales tax increase voters approved in 2016. Work should be finished this spring or early summer, said Assistant City Manager Greg Butler.
Last year, the city unveiled new equipment at Nicolas Road Park and Butterfield Stage Park, which became destinations for parents from other parts of town.
At Nicholas Road Park, kids can be found scaling rocks and practicing their “argghs” on the black and red pirate ship. And the little ones love checking out the friendly-faced bear carved into the tree house at Butterfield Stage Park, located on De Portola Road, plus the monarch butterfly and dragonfly equipment.
The new equipment replaces 1990s-era structures that generally featured just a few swings, a bouncy animal or motorcycle and some simple slides connected by monkey bars.
City officials decided to do large-scale renovations of the parks, rather than just replacing the old structures, to offer more engaging activities for the city’s youth, which dovetails with the new trends in playground design that call for more exploration, imagination and the incorporation of sensory elements such as musical instruments.
In other park news, the Great Oak-themed playground that was planned for Sam Hicks Monument Park in Old Town is still on hold. The city is currently entangled in a lawsuit against Nature Works, the company that was hired to create a replica of the ancient tree, which is considered sacred by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. In August, the city served Nature Works with a breach of contract complaint alleging that the Escondido-based company failed to deliver a playground as per the terms of the $500,000 deal approved in 2015.
“No decisions have been made on the future improvement of Sam Hicks park,” Butler wrote in an email . “We are starting our annual CIP (capital improvement program) budget process soon. That will likely be a topic of discussion.”
The company alleges the project encountered delays due to city-ordered changes.
Park Renovation Timeline
Vail Ranch Park on Harmony Lane: Old Town-inspired equipment with 103-foot gravity rail zip track.
Sunset Park on Camino San Jose: “Music at Sunset” theme with “Rhapsody” line of outdoor musical instruments
Veteran’s Park on La Serena Way: Fighter jet-themed play structure and fitness stations.
Ronald Reagan Sports Park on Rancho Vista Road: Full renovation of snack bar and restrooms, new decking at the pool and new lighting system. A “pump track” near the skate park also is planned.