Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 10, 2013

Summer fun — New playgrounds a benefit to children

Here is some good news for children living in Nature’s Air-Conditioned City. Three public playgrounds in Bluefield are getting all new equipment just in time for summer.

City Manager Jim Ferguson reports the city will be renovating the East River, East End and Wayne Street playgrounds with brand new equipment. He says some of the existing equipment is dangerous, inadequate or simply outdated.

“We picked these three parks because logistically they are good locations and they are some of the most heavily used playgrounds in the city,” Ferguson said last week. “All three of these playgrounds have a lot of neighborhood children who use them for activities.”

The cost of renovating the three playgrounds is estimated at approximately $45,000. Ferguson said the expense will be covered by a grant the city received from the June O. Shott Foundation for the playground project.

The city is now in the process of ordering the new equipment. Ferguson says city crews will begin mulching and landscaping at the three playgrounds in May. An outside crew has been hired to install the new playground equipment. He says the goal is to have the new equipment completely installed by the time schools let out for the summer.

City officials, and members of the volunteer “Blue Momentum” team, have made renovating and improving parks and recreational facilities in the city a part of their economic development plans.

“The activities occurring within our city park and neighborhood parks are an integral part of our community,” Ferguson adds. “Our goal is to meet the community’s needs for recreation and other leisure activities within the city’s parks and recreation department. This is also a part of the Blue Momentum plan for parks and recreation. We felt the time and money were here for this project.”

Recreation — and Lotito Park in particular — is one of the strengths of the city of Bluefield and is a great regional attraction for citizens across the area. And even though the popular Ridge Runner derailed during its maiden voyage of the season last Saturday, Lori Mills, coordinator of the miniature train, is hoping to have the Ridge Runner back in operation in time for this weekend.

But beyond Lotito Park, the different community playgrounds in the city — including the East River, East End and Wayne Street playgrounds — also play an important role for area children and families.

The new playground equipment announced by Ferguson will greatly benefit local children. And keeping kids active and healthy during the summer months is important.

The renovated playgrounds will provide a clean, fun and safe place for the children to enjoy outdoor activities.

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