A number of Omaha playgrounds are in need of repair, but overhauling them would come at a cost of $100,000 a piece. That’s not in the city’s budget.
But some neighborhoods are working with the Omaha Parks Foundation to raise money for improvements. The Parks and Recreation Department gave the non-profit foundation a list of the 15 “worst” playgrounds, so to speak.
Amber Miller, Exec. Dir. Omaha Parks Foundation said those areas are, "of safety need, of ADA requirement, new playgrounds - just old equipment needs to be refurbished. A lot of this equipment here for instance is at least over 20-25 years-old and in much need of repair or replacement."
That list includes Schroeder-Vogel Park, 5115 Hickory St. “It’s quite old,” said Tom Prohaska, Aksarben-Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association. "It's no longer even close to being state of the art and we think we can replace it with something that would be more amenable to kids and probably safer for them."
Neighbors have already banded together to plant new trees and revamp the basketball court. But there is still much work to be done to bring the playground up to par with today’s standards. So, Prohaska and others have been working with the Omaha Parks Foundation on a three-year playground initiative, running from 2012 to 2014. They’ve raised $6,000 so far.
For people working toward improvements at any of the 15 designated playgrounds, if they can raise $10,000, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska will match it. If they can raise $50,000, the City has promised to fund the rest.
That’s already happening for those near Schroeder-Vogel, said Prohaska. "It's bringing some of our people together maybe some of the younger people who can envision their kids using it and people like me who can envision their grandchildren using it."
A fundraiser this Saturday, December 1st, will further the cause. “Pancakes for Parks” will take place at the Longhorn Steakhouse, 74th and Dodge, which is a community sponsor. The event runs from 7:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., with all-you-can-eat breakfasts costing $8 for adults and $4 for children. Santa Claus will also make an appearance, and there will be raffles.
To learn more about the Omaha Parks Foundation Playground Initiative or to talk with someone about a specific neighborhood park, call (402) 444-5947 or click on the link below the map.