A grant will help fund the rebuild of the Foley Kids Playground in Max Griffin Park as the city plans to redo the current decades-old structures there now. The playground is directly west of Foley Fire Station No. 1.

“We worked with a vendor that helped us leverage our money and some of the structures they have the dollar match so the larger structures are covered with a 50-50 match,” Executive Director of Leisure Services David Thompson said. “We put in $179,000 and they are putting in $179,000. So, instead of just getting a playground worth about $700,000 we were able to get something closer to $1 million. We’re pretty excited about getting to leverage the money we had.”

Gametime is providing the extra funds for some of the biggest components for the park and the entire price tag includes demolition of the current structures.

“We’ve had a kids park there and it was a community build about 20 years ago,” Thompson said. “We’ve done an excellent job maintaining it because the useful life of a park like that was supposed to be 15 years. We’re to the point now with the composite wood and the material that it was made of we have to replace it.”

The current park was met with excitement and was well received during its 20 years of operation and Thompson said the city wants to keep that tradition going with the new playground.

“I’m very excited our leadership has been willing to step up at this level for our kids,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely something that’s been a gem of our community and we wanted to make sure that we replace it with something comparable. We really feel like this is going to be another great quality-of-life feature for our kids in our community.”

Thompson and other city officials reached out to the community to come up with ideas for the park including two themes to choose from for the rebuild.

“We just decided that we are going to do a completely fresh, new park,” Thompson said. “We went before the community, had a couple of different design concepts. Over 2,500 people voted on it to come up with the nature-themed one. We’re pretty excited about it. That was a lot of participation for any kind of survey. We were very excited that the schools cooperated with us and helped get the kids to vote. We let the residents speak for what they want and we’re excited to bring it to them.”

The second choice was for a farm theme that included a pirate ship and farm implement replicas but the nature theme won the day.

“We feel like we’ve got a great project coming,” Thompson said. “We’re scheduling it after the holidays. We’re going to try to keep it through the Christmas holidays and as soon as the Christmas holidays are done, we’re going to start demolition. We’ve got the order in but there is some lead time associated with the materials for the structures that are coming in. We’ve thinking probably by the end of January we’ll actually begin the new installation but you’ll actually see some demolition in early January.”

Also, the new playground will go above and beyond accessibility requirements from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The biggest thing with the playground that I’m excited about is it’s more inclusive,” Thompson said. “In the past, we’ve had playgrounds that are what you consider inclusive but this takes it beyond ADA compliance. It’s really focused on ensuring the kids of all abilities are able to play together side by side. You’ll see some features that are much more wheelchair accessible. We have a couple of little zip lines in there. There’s one that is more designed for the kids that might be special needs. To me, that’s really one of the big differences and will be one of the biggest features of this park. It is really designed for all the kids in our community.”