Archive for Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Pilla Park may receive facelift

July 4, 2001

Even though the Bowling family doesn't spend much time at Pilla Park, across from their Main Street home, the number of people who frequent the park amazes Tracy Bowling.

"Every evening and on weekends it's just a constant pack of all ages," Bowling said. "You would expect the kids to show up and play on the toys, but it's amazing how many of the older generation show up to eat a meal."

With both immediate and long-range changes, recreation director Dianna Beebe hopes the park sandwiched between Main Street and Main Terrace on the east and west and by Seventh and Sixth streets on the north and south will function more smoothly.

By centralizing playground equipment and creating a walking path around the park, adults can circle the grounds while keeping tabs on the children in the park's center.

"To me, it's really nice to be able to watch young children play," Beebe said. "If your child's playing, you can walk in the same area."

Beebe's plans don't stop with Pilla.

"It's grandiose," she said, pulling another sketch of a park from deep inside a file cabinet. "I've really had fun looking at the process."

For now, Beebe focuses her energy on Pilla.

"This is an example of what we'd like to do in the future," she said.

In addition to sketching, learning safety recommendations for playgrounds and pricing sand and pea gravel, Beebe gets to search through catalogs of playground equipment, some of which look like hamster tunnels.

Aside from new slides and merry-go-rounds, beautification could include additional picnic tables, which Bowling thinks would be just fine.

"If we had some place that was cleaner for eating, that would be nice," he said.

Landscaping with color flowers and shrubbery adding color to the park might come much later, Beebe said.

"Right now we have two colors in our parks: brown and green," she said.

But she's not just interested in her own ideas. Community input would be welcomed, she said.

Beebe identified Pilla because next to Luci Kaegi Park, 17th and Elm, the downtown venue seemed to have the highest traffic. Moreover, Luci Kaegi's equipment and grounds were in better shape in terms of safety.

Getting Pilla's equipment into shape is Beebe's first priority. Some of the equipment, like the slide and merry-go-round that were fine when they were installed, don't fit today's safety standards.

The merry-go-round doesn't have a governor, meaning children can spin the equipment as fast as their legs can run. The slide should have a cover over the top portion where a fall would be more dangerous.

Soft material, like sand, pea gravel, or recycled tires or plastic pop bottles needs to go underneath the equipment.

Beyond the costs of these materials, Beebe said she didn't have an estimate of the entire project's cost. She said she'd like to get as much done as possible, including centralizing the equipment and getting soft materials down while the department still has summer help, and while the weather is favorable.

Signs need to go up at all parks, Beebe said, reflecting the new names adopted this year of which many residents are still unaware.

Her plans for the Pilla Park sign include incorporating the colors of the Pilla House across the street. The city named the park after the house, built by Charles Pilla in 1894.

"It's been fun looking at the parks and looking at the names of the parks and the historical information that goes into it," she said.

Bowling said he supported the project, which could revitalize an historic section of the city.

"Anything we can do to keep downtown from fading away is a good thing," he said.

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