January 16, 2009

Greenbelt works with associations to add more places to play

By Leta Mach

From our beginning as a planned city in 1937, Greenbelt has recognized the importance of recreation and play for all our citizens. That is why in December 2004, the city council approved a voluntary agreement for homeowner associations and apartment complexes whereby the city would assume responsibility for playground maintenance in exchange for cost-sharing and public access to the playgrounds.

Prior to establishing this program, the city had inspected all playgrounds in the city to determine whether they met Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. An intensive effort brought city-owned playgrounds into compliance. Owners of private playgrounds were informed of the results of the inspections and offered the opportunity to join the city’s playground agreement program in order to upgrade their playgrounds.

Three homeowner associations have joined the program and opened their playgrounds to the public. In this partnership, the city inspects the playgrounds and their equipment at least annually but generally more often. The city is responsible for equipment maintenance and repair costs. The playground owner is responsible for maintaining the grounds, landscaping, trash receptacles, trash collection and any benches, fencing and lighting that exists. The city and playground owner both maintain appropriate liability insurance.

To date, unsafe equipment has been removed from all these playgrounds and a priority list, based on need, has been developed to upgrade the playgrounds. Because of the budget impact with the city covering 75 percent of the costs, upgrading all the playgrounds will take several years. The homeowner associations are required to pay 25 percent of the equipment replacement and surfacing costs when their playground is upgraded. Three playgrounds have been completed and another is planned for completion early in 2009. Playground equipment and surfacing is determined by the city in consultation with the homeowner association based on generally accepted industry guidelines and playground needs throughout the city.

For more information, contact the Greenbelt City Hall at 301-474-8000.

Leta Mach was first elected to the Greenbelt City Council in 2003 after many years of volunteer service in support of education and cooperatives. She strongly believes in the importance of play to build strong minds, bodies and communities.

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