Recess at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy is about to get an upgrade.
After years of work by parents, staff and school board members, plans for an improved playground are finally “getting down to completion,” according to Gainesville City Schools Superintendent
Scarlet Pendarvis, chair of Enota’s Stay Fit Play Smart Playground Committee, said work on upgrading the decades-old play equipment is in phase 2, which includes repairing old problems such as drainage and creating a “clean slate” for the new equipment.
“The (new) equipment will be in hopefully before the end of this year,” Pendarvis said. “We’re working with a company to build us exactly what we want now.”
The new playground equipment will focus much more on physical fitness, Pendarvis said.
“All equipment they’re purchasing is geared toward physical education,” said Keith Vincent, maintenance and operations director for the school system. “It won’t just be slides and stuff.”
Pendarvis said that straying from bridges and slides will help keep students moving during their time outside.
“The equipment will be comprised of all kinds of way to use your body: climbing, swinging, jumping,” she said. “It makes it more about physical fitness, more movement, more imaginative play.
“It’s just a whole new era of play equipment than what is out there.”
Most of the base work for the new playground will be finished by early next week. Crews have been working this week on installing a new drainage system on the playground.
“Now when it rains, the kids should be able to play that day,” Vincent said.
A new basketball court was installed on Friday; seeding and other work is planned for Monday, Vincent said.
The Enota PTA is using more than $45,000 raised through fundraisers over the last two years to purchase the new playground equipment. Some of the fundraisers included yard sales, talent shows and the Boosterthon Fun Run.
“We are done with our fundraising in the schools, and the children have been amazing,” Pendarvis said, adding that fundraisers are continuing throughout the community.
The PTA is approaching organizations and businesses about sponsoring pieces of equipment in the next phase, which will include the addition of a walking trail around the playground equipment, landscaping and some shade.
The third phase will be the final one, and Pendarvis hopes to have that finished by the end of the school year in May.
The idea of an upgraded playground was started about seven years ago by then-student council president Sara Hayes. Since then, work was slow moving at times, but “hard-core fundraising” began two years ago, Pendarvis said.
Dyer said she’s grateful for the PTA and faculty for all their work on the project and for “staying with it” during the multiyear process.
Once all the equipment is in and the work is done, Pendarvis said it will be an improvement.
“We feel very strongly that this is an extension of our Smartville community,” she said. “This is much more than a playground.”