New and improved playground coming to Monastery

New and improved playground coming to Monastery

A poster shows some of the themes that will be incorporated into the new playground at the Cumberland Monastery.

CUMBERLAND – Town officials are planning $109,311 in upgrades to the high-use playground at the Cumberland Monastery on Diamond Hill Road.

The comprehensive plan to upgrade and revitalize the playground was to be presented to the Town Council at a meeting Wednesday, Feb. 5.

The planned new playground equipment includes swings, a new play structure for children ages 2-5, a large climbing structure for older children, a large slide, a spinner, and several accessible free-standing structures including diggers and musical play pieces.

“The new playground equipment will provide the opportunity at an already busy play space for even more children to get outdoors, interact with each other, have fun, and learn through collaborative play,” said Mayor Jeff Mutter in a statement.

Mutter told The Breeze that the playground upgrades have been referenced in the town’s comprehensive plan and capital plan over the years, and the work was “certainly one of the items we wanted to attend to” during his administration.

The project, being championed by Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah King, was presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission last week, where members unanimously approved it and sent it to the council. Meghan O’Brien of O’Brien and Sons and a representative from the mayor’s office presented the design to the commission.

According to King, the one item staying as part of the current playground is the structure for ages 2-5 built in 2016. Highway Supt. Frank Stowik can demolish existing structures as early as next week, she said, and it will take about four weeks to get the equipment delivered. It then typically takes about three or four weeks for everything to be installed, putting completion of the playground about two months away.

The only item being removed from when the town completed $41,000 in upgrades in 2016 is the sandbox, said King, because parents told town staff that if the playground was going to get a redo, they no longer wanted it.

New swing seats installed in 2016 will be repurposed elsewhere, she said. The town can’t keep the swing structures where they are, she said, because by code they are too close to other structures.

Mutter’s plan includes the installation of new equipment and the grading and installation of new ground material. It is part of his “overarching goal to modernize and make valued community spaces throughout town safer, more accessible for all, and gathering spaces for which Cumberland residents can be proud.”

Much of the current playground requires repair, with the age of many of the structures making finding replacement parts difficult. The new equipment will make it safer and increase ADA accessibility, say officials.

Representatives from the mayor’s office went to the playground on numerous occasions to speak to the families who utilize the play space. The design was inspired by the conversations with those families about their desires and concerns.

“It is important for any projects we undertake in and for our community spaces to be a collaborative effort, and this playground is an example of the exciting things that can take place when we do work together,” said Mutter, highlighting the efforts made to ensure the plan was responsive to the needs of the community.

Through a competitive bid process, M.E O’Brien and Sons was chosen to design, procure, and install the new playground equipment. The company has done playground installations in more than 30 communities in Rhode Island and has been in business for 90 years.

The revitalization is consistent with Cumberland’s comprehensive plan, which identified new playground equipment at the Monastery as an active recreational need. Funding for the project is available through the town’s previous recreation bond.