Normally on a summer morning, the city playground at Riverside Park in Mount Airy would be filled with kids and parents enjoying its various attractions.
On Thursday, however, their usual sounds of laughter and gleeful yells were being replaced by the roar of heavy equipment, the dull thuds of post hole diggers meeting solid earth and workmen shouting instructions to each other.
But the good news is, their work will soon be finished on a $105,427 upgrade of the playground — and the children can return.
“Good — making great progress,” was the assessment of city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander as she surveyed the operation.
“The weather’s been good to us — that’s been a big part of it,” Alexander added.
She said if this streak of luck continues, the playground project could effectively be finished as early as next Friday. But Alexander said the official reopening of the facility might be postponed until after the July 4 holiday and be accompanied by some type of ceremony, as desired by city council members.
The project involves replacing playground facilities erected about 12 years ago through a “Build a Dream” campaign, a massive volunteer effort by the community fueled with donations of money and labor from businesses and individuals.
But over the years, the largely wooden facilities began to deteriorate and pose safety and maintenance concerns.
That led to money being included in the 2015-2016 municipal budget for new playground fixtures, resulting in a purchase from a Georgia company which was officially approved by the city board of commissioners in April.
Crews began dismantling and removing old playground units on June 4, paving the way for delivery of the new equipment soon after, and work has been ongoing at the site on Riverside Drive this month.
The new custom-design items being installed boast such names as sonic spinner, football spin-around, spring rider/police bike, lily pad weave and full bucket bay, along with others including a seesaw assembly. The life expectancy of the equipment is 20 to 25 years.
A sense of anticipation among community members has been evident as the project progresses, according to Alexander.
“We’ve had a lot of kids come by,” she said, who’ve been “very excited” about the additions while gazing longingly at the playground-to-be as it takes shape.
Naturally, some parents have expressed feelings of nostalgia about the quaint older facility local residents enjoyed for years, yet they also are looking forward to the revamped playground, Alexander said.
“It gives them something new.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.