Jaycee Park centerpiece to be refreshed

Allen Laman/The Herald
The playground at Jaycee Park in Jasper is getting an upgrade.


JASPER — A playground centerpiece at a Jasper park will soon be refreshed.

Tuesday evening, the Jasper Park & Recreation Board approved revamping elements of Jaycee Park’s dominant structure. Time has caught up to the sprawling, slide-filled piece of equipment — and replacing parts of it has become a necessity.

Steps, bridges and decks that connect the massive hub have fallen into disrepair, as have a pair of slides, whose entryways have been boarded off to prevent little ones from gliding down them.

Fixing those problems is estimated to cost between $32,000 and $36,000. Parks department leadership hopes the work is completed before the end of the year, but noted that a firm schedule does not exist at this time.

“What we’re trying to do, the big picture, is review all our playgrounds and playground equipment and parks, and try to update them as we can,” explained Ken Buck, director of the Jasper Park & Recreation Department.

J.P. Stemply, the city’s park maintenance superintendent, said he believes that the structure has sat at the park since 1999. Buck estimated the structure cost between $75,000 and $90,000 when it was installed all those years ago.

While the parts mentioned above need fixing, others should be good for years to come.

“The rest of the equipment — which is big — is in excellent shape and should last another 20 to 25 years, is what they told us,” Buck said of conversations between the parks and playground equipment companies. “They highly recommended instead of putting a whole brand new one in there — because a lot of it is still in good shape — to repair it.”

Removing the equipment and replacing it with a brand new structure would have cost about $125,000. Playgrounds are expensive, Buck explained, because labor to ensure safe and proper installation is pricey, and the materials are so durable they can last decades in the elements.

Buck said that if the department receives the materials from Miracle Recreation and Equipment Company in the next couple months, it could be installed before 2021. Next year, the department will look to update Lions Club Park, which is located near the Jasper City Mill.

Stemply said the park still looks really good from a distance — it’s only upon closer inspection that its flaws can be found. Still, he knows that community members expect the park to meet a high standard.

The goal of the upcoming work is to bring the playground up to that level.

“It’s really a nice piece,” Stemply said of the Jaycee Park structure. “And in my opinion, these older pieces were nicer than the new ones. They’re not quite as elaborate on some of the things now in the newer ones. I really like the way the old ones are built.”

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