Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Old tires form new play area

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 6/25/2014

Jessy and Arien Stalford are excited to play on an old playground with a new look, they said.

Since June 18, workers have been busy installing a new Poured-In-Place playground surface manufactured by Ecoturf Surfacing at the Sacred Heart Catholic School playground, 408 S. Cedar St., Ottawa.

Jessy and Arien Stalford are excited to play on an old playground with a new look, they said.

Since June 18, workers have been busy installing a new Poured-In-Place playground surface manufactured by Ecoturf Surfacing at the Sacred Heart Catholic School playground, 408 S. Cedar St., Ottawa.

Jessy, 10, and Arien, 7, both Sacred Heart Catholic School students, will get their opportunity to try out the new space once the turf is completely dry and ready to go, which could be as soon as Friday.

The playground, which previously had mulch surfacing, now features a surface of more than 80-percent recycled rubber. The funding for the project, which cost about $38,000, came from a 50-percent matching grant from the Waste Tire Grant Program from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as well as funding from parents and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church parish.

“The KDHE Waste Tire Grant Program helps communities and schools with playground projects,” Megan MacPherson, grant manager with KDHE, said. “It is a 50 percent grant match. We pay for that with a 25-cent tax on new tires, so for every new set of tires you buy, you donate a dollar towards this project.

“It is a competitive grant process. Schools and communities can apply and then we have an eight person governor-approved grant committee that selects who receives the grants,” MacPherson said.

Jessica Stalford, Jessy and Arien’s mother, is a member of the parent advisory council for Sacred Heart and applied for the grant for the school. She is happy to see the new surface replace the mulch, which caused problems in the past, she said.

“We had been saving up money to make improvements to our playground and actually our principal, Natalie [Wrobel], had received an email saying that this opportunity was available,” Stalford said. “She had contacted me to see if I would do the footwork to get it going and we just thought it would make a more accessible area for our children and our parish here at Sacred Heart.

“[The mulch surface] had to be replaced yearly by parents of our school and parish. We would have to be out with rakes. On windy days, it would kind of blow and get in children’s eyes, or splinters were possible. It rotted, it held moisture. Wood mulch is more predisposition for bugs. Now they can turn on the leaf blower and can clear the surface off if it needs it. It drains. When they put this in they improved our drainage and now our kids won’t have to go days without using our playground because of moisture.”

The new surface not only features new bright blue, green and red colors, but also is making use of recyclable material. After taking out the mulch surface and laying rock, workers put down a base layer of styrene butadiene rubber, which is made up of 100-percent recycled rubber, before going over with a second colored top layer comprised of a synthetic rubber called ethylene propylene diene monomer.

“There is a variety of products you can get [through the grant program] and all of them take Kansas waste tires out of the waste stream, so it is doing something good with our tires,” MacPherson said. “The bottom layer is made with 100-percent recycled rubber and the top layer, the black granules is recycled rubber and the colored granules are new rubber, so it is about 82-percent recycled rubber all together. We are taking hundreds of tires out of the waste stream for just one project.”

All together, 21,700 pounds of rubber was used on the 3,500-square-foot Sacred Heart playground, Lauren Harris, project manager with Ecoturf Surfacing out of Kansas City, Kansas, said.

A sign will be posted saying the playground is made from recycled materials, so there will be an educative aspect to the playground as well, MacPherson said.

“The finished product is amazing,” she said. “It’s durable, it lasts a long time, it is easy to maintain for schools and communities. We like the Pour-In-Place a lot.”

Wade Taylor, project manager with Ecoturf Surfacing, also said while on site that the new surface is much more wheelchair accessible than mulch.

“This is a solid surface straight across,” Taylor said.

At the end of the day, Stalford was pleased by the project.

“Because we are not state funded, we rely a lot on our community and church members to help provide funds for our school to keep Sacred Heart open for our community,” she said. “It’s been a blessing for my family, so I am very thankful for the members around and community around here who do help support us.”

comments powered by Disqus