Neighbors Rally to Update Playgrounds

By: Jodi Baker Email
By: Jodi Baker Email

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.

Other Parks Making the List Include:

  • Park East, 548 S. 26th Ave.
  • Spring Lake Park, 4020 Hoctor Blvd.
  • Hanscom Park, 3201 Woolworth Ave.
  • Bemis Park,3434 Cumming St.
  • Albright Park, 2002 Madison Ave.
  • Elmwood Park, 802 So. 60th St.
  • Yale Park, 3377 Lake St.
  • Grace Young Park, 6317 Military Ave.
  • Benson Park, 7002 Military Ave.
  • Cunningham Lake, 8660 Cunningham Lake Rd.
  • Standing Bear Lake, 6404 No. 132nd St.
  • TaHaZouka Park, 905 Elkhorn Dr.
  • Zorinsky Lake, 156th & F St.
  • Kingswood Park, 3310 So. 137th St.

Miller said neighbors of those playgrounds can have some input on the final design, if they can get to that point. They can choose features that matter to them, whether that includes more parking, better sidewalks, bicycle access, shade or specific play equipment. "It will rally neighborhoods and citizens. They'll take ownerships of their park,” said Miller.

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.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WOWT NBC Omaha 3501 Farnam Street Omaha, NE 68131 (402) 346-6666
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 181357261 -
Gray Television, Inc.