Hillcrest Park to get new playground equipment

The Hillcrest Park playground equipment is out of date and doesn’t meet current safety standards, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation director John Knight told the county commission Monday. The commissioners approved the purchase of new playground equipment. (Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal)

Outdated playground equipment at Hillcrest Park will be replaced with a modern play structure, featuring multiple tiers and activities.

 

The Shawnee County Commission voted unanimously Monday morning to allow the purchase of the new equipment for just under $47,200.

John Knight, director of Shawnee County Parks & Recreation, said significant work is being done at Hillcrest Community Center and Hillcrest Park, upgrading not just the playground, but also sports courts, fitness equipment and the center itself. After the holiday season, parks officials will be reaching out to the public for input on what people would like to see included at Hillcrest and other community centers.

“I find out pretty regularly how I’m not cool anymore, so I shouldn’t try to guess what the kids want now,” Knight said, adding that a visit to most of the community centers will show quickly how they’re designed to meet needs from decades past. “Kids now want climbing walls, more extreme stuff, technological rooms where they can play games.”

Knight told commissioners the playground equipment being replaced is decades past its lifespan and doesn’t adequately meet today’s safety standards.

“We are going through the entire system, not only removing some of the older pieces of equipment but managing them smarter going into the future,” he said. That includes assessing all of the playground sites to determine if other playgrounds are nearby and whether they should be maintained.

The funds for the playground equipment come from more than $599,000 in mortgage defeasance revenue, said Betty Greiner, director of audit finance. Commissioners on Monday approved half of the dollars to be used for parks and recreation deferred maintenance and half for Maner Conference Centre deferred maintenance.

In other business, commissioners approved Torgeson Electrical to do electrical service upgrades at the Shawnee Conty North Annex. Previously, the contract was awarded to the low bidder, CD Electric. But a CD Electric official contacted the county and said the company had inadvertently left out an amount of $4,500 in its bid and the price would need to be raised.

Instead of changing CD Electric’s bid, the commissioners approved Torgeson, which had originally been the second lowest bidder at $6,474.

In other business, the commission:

— Approved the purchase of 85 computers at $50,959 to replace aging computers in the district court.

— Approved a contract with CivicPlus for $82,000 for 2018 and $50,000 annually after that for a new recreation management software for Shawnee County Parks & Recreation.

— Approved establishment of a Flexible Benefits “Cafeteria” plan and set the nontaxable employer contribution per employee for $781 per month. Angela Lewis, head of human resources, said that amount reflects an increase of 8 percent for the county. Employees also saw an 8 percent increase.

A cafeteria plan lays out all the employee options for health, dental and medical plans, and employees are able to choose which plans they would like, Lewis told commissioners.

— Commissioners approved a contract with Tria Health, a medical management company, for $4 per month per employee. Tria representative Jim Winne told commissioners the plan will work with the 393 plan members who have chronic conditions and take more than four medications per month to best utilize their prescriptions. Although not all will engage with them, Winne assured commissioners that helping with prescription education, as well as working with physicians and health plan members, will see a typical savings of more than $123,000 per year.

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