For several months now, the community, along with officials from Folsom Parks and Recreation and Folsom City Council have had discussions regarding the condition and the future of one of the city’s longtime favorite parks. 

Kids Play Park, better known through the years as Castle Park has deteriorated greatly, prompting city officials to consider closure due to fiscal challenges. That could all be changing soon if Folsom City Council approved a plan presented by Folsom City Manager Elaine Andersen during presentation of the proposed 2024-25 Fiscal Year city budget at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. 

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While the proposed budget has some financial setbacks when it comes to some park maintenance services in the year ahead, Andersen proposed to council members that the city utilize funds from its unassigned fund balance, also known as reserves or its “rainy day fund,” to fund the needed repair and placement of the park. Located at 201 Prewitt Drive in Folsom, 

Folsom Kids Play Park has long offered a playground with infinite opportunities for adventures and escapades. The park is furnished with unique play equipment including web-like rope ladders, giant tires jutting from the ground, and a wiggling and wobbling rubber bridge all within a wooden, fortress-like playground that has provided decades of enjoyment and memories for Folsom families. 

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The structure was originally built in 1996 by the efforts of local residents, however, over the years much of the wood has deteriorated, posing safety hazards for children and forcing city officials to actually remove some components and close off others where repairs have been far too complex to complete to the standards required for a public play structure. 

In her proposal Tuesday, Andersen suggested that the city allocation $1,100,000 from the city reserves to proceed with repairing and replacing the many components needs at the park. 

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“This park is close to thirty years old, that is 15 years past its recommended life cycle. Despite many years of maintenance and repairs of this park, including custom modifications to keep the park functional and safe. We’ve reached a point now we’re forced to just remove key components once they wear out,” said Andersen. “Park maintenance staff have removed about 40 percent of one of the play structures.”

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A structure that was once partially built by the help of residents, many have been offering to organize a group to repair the park to help the city. However, doing so isn’t so simple do to today’s regulations surrounding public play structures, preventing it from just being rehabilitated, as Andersen also explained. 

“Playground safety requirements have changed over the years. The structure has been modified to eliminate entrapment hazards as well as safety fall zones. The modifications are no longer viable do to the overall age and degradation of the structure,” Andersen explained. “The structure is constructed of pressure treated wood, which is no longer authorized by the Consumer Products Safety Commission which regulates playground safety in the United States.”

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Andersen shared that the city is in the process of assessing the entire structure with a certified playground inspector and is proposing the city rebuilds this iconic park with the needed funds from the city reserves.

Tuesday’s proposed budget is now in the hands of City Council to fully review, suggest changes and ultimately approve once and for all by June 30th.  Its expected many items on the budget in addition to the use of the reserve funds will be discussed at the June 11 City Council meeting as well as thereafter prior to the deadline. 

Many throughout the community have brought up the possibility of funding for the park from the proposed city tax measure that is on the November ballot. The measure would first have to be approved by voters, such funding would not be available well into 2025. Such a wait would force the city to close the park for an unknown extent of time, even if the measure is passed.

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Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.