STOW — Will a new community playground be built in the city?
A step was taken toward that possibility when City Council on Thursday night unanimously approved Council President Matt Riehl’s (Ward 1) motion for Council to: "engage with the administration to create an action plan to replace SKiP (Stow Kids’ Playground) Park through community effort."
SKiP, which was off Darrow Road, was torn down earlier this year because "a lot of the features had deteriorated to the point where it was an unsafe playground," said interim Mayor Jim Costello.
On Thursday, Riehl recalled that the construction of SKiP in 1991 was a community effort where money was raised privately, the city also contributed funds and community members helped build the park.
"It was something that really brought the community together," said Riehl. "In the spirit of that, I’d like to entertain the prospect of another community outreach effort to build a playground in the city of Stow. This is just the first step of many."
He explained that he would like to again have money raised privately with a "possible [funding] match by the city."
Councilman Mike Rasor (At Large) noted he and Riehl recall SKiP as "a special place" during their childhoods.
"We find ourselves now in a position where we can potentially create some memories for kids in the next generation," said Rasor. "We’re going to see if there’s a beneficiary or benefactor of this decade that can step up and do this."
Rasor added the city wants to create a "unique" playground.
"I’m excited," said Rasor. "Let’s do it."
Councilman Bob Adaska (Ward 4) was involved with the building of SKiP and recalled that it was "a fun effort."
He also noted he was "emotional" at a previous Council meeting about the removal of the playground because "I just hated to see it go."
Adaska said "quite a few" young adults told him they grew up going to SKiP and they now had children who were playing there before it was dismantled.
He also said he would again help with the project, and drew some laughter from his colleagues when he said: "I still have a little steam left in me."
Councilman Brian Lowdermilk (Ward 3) said "a lot of" residents "loved that playground." He noted there was "certainly a lot of dismay" among the residents he represents that the playground was no longer there.
Councilman John Pribonic (At Large) suggested the Stow Community Foundation could help "spearhead" a fundraising effort.
Rasor said it was felt that the park could be built either with or without a downtown project
"Let’s see what’s out there," said Riehl. "Let’s see if there’s interest. If there is, we’ll move forward."
The removal of SKiP gave rise to strong emotions in the community during the last few months. The tearing-down of SKiP prompted 7-year-old Emma Kovach to write a letter to Costello urging him to bring the park back. Costello and other city officials met with Emma June 11. The removal of the playground also prompted an argument between Adaska and then-Mayor Sara Kline at a council meeting in March.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.