Stow Council confirms support of new SKiP playground

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
The 27-year-old SKiP playground was torn down in 2018, and since then, city officials have been talking about replacing it. City officials now believe kids could be playing on a new SKiP park by the end of 2021.

The city of Stow recently took a much-anticipated step toward building a new SKiP Playground, which could be up and running by the end of 2021. 

On March 11, City Council unanimously approved the resolution of support for the new playground after about three months of back and forth between the legislative body and administration. 

More:Stow officials confident SKiP project will take major step Thursday

With the approved resolution, which was not legally required but was requested by the administration, Mayor John Pribonic will resume fundraising efforts that were halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Once the funds are secured, the city would solicit bids for playground equipment, using community input as a guide

"It is so important for our community to have a central gathering place," parks and recreation director Linda Nahrstedt said. "We envision a playground, a play trail and a flexible event lawn for public programming."

Currently, the administration is looking into a pod-style playground that would feature several different play areas encircling the former SKiP's parking lot. 

Each pod would have varying equipment for climbing, sliding, spinning and swinging, as well as sensory pieces, shade, seating, ADA accessibility and potentially a zipline. Some pods would cater to ages 2-5, while others would be for ages 5-12. 

Nahrstedt added that the space lends itself to future additions including a story walk, an outdoor fitness course and a splash pad, one of the most popular features based on community input that has been eliminated for now due to cost. 

The playground, including site preparation and a $50,000 contingency, is expected to cost around $600,000, funded by private donors.

In a last-minute amendment to the resolution of support proposed by Councilman Cyle Feldman, council will "consider using public funds to ensure completion of the playground," should Pribonic's efforts fall short. 

Councilman Steve Hailer, who has been leading council's SKiP efforts, suggested council appropriate $125,000 toward the project, but Pribonic asked that he be given more time to see how much money he can raise privately. 

Already, two former donors have reaffirmed their contributions, Pribonic said. 

During a parks and recreation board meeting on March 8, Nick Wren, Pribonic's chief of staff and director of public service, explained that once funds are secured, the city would send out their budget and concepts to representatives of playground equipment companies, who would then submit their design ideas for SKiP. 

More:Stow parks and rec board OKs new SKiP playground

"There may be something that we all sit down to look at and go 'Boy, I like 95% of what Company A has done.' In playground bids, you can go back and say 'We don't like this 5% of the plan. What can we do instead?'" Wren said. "We get the opportunity for some back and forth, which is not at all what you get with road projects or things like that. You can comment and make adjustments." 

Wren told council March 11 that the project timeline is heavily dependent on when Pribonic secures the funds, and how quickly the equipment is delivered. 

"If money is in hand by June 1, I'm hoping we're in construction September/October," he said. 

Pribonic wants the park to be a destination site for families in surrounding communities, who would come to play but then would stick around to eat at Stow restaurants or shop in Stow stores. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.