Monday, February 21, 2011

Add playground to soccer at Jack Allen

By Tiffeny Owens
The Decatur Daily

By late spring, the children of Southwest Decatur will have a new place to play.

City officials will break ground May 6 on a new playground at the Jack Allen Recreational Complex. Decatur’s Parks and Recreation Department hopes to finish the project in time for warmer, spring weather, said Director Jeff Dunlap.

The playground is part of a comprehensive plan for the complex, located on Modaus Road Southwest, which could include a splash pad and a picnic area.

Dunlap met with Pelham-based playground company J.A. Dawson & Company Inc. earlier this month to discuss the project’s layout. The play area would be 49-by-76-feet, according to the company.

“We’ve got to figure out how to restructure the area for irrigation, but our goal is to have it ready by spring,” Dunlap said. “The weather could slow us down though.”

The playground wouldn’t have been possible without the help of state Sen. Arthur Orr, Dunlap said.

“He was able to secure the $125,000 (from the state) to fund the project,” Dunlap said.

Orr, R-Decatur, said that, excluding the Beltline Road area and school playgrounds, families in Southwest Decatur do not have a playground available to them.

“I hope this will be a place for families to bring their kids but also help broaden the appeal of the Jack Allen complex,” Orr said. “I see it helping our local people but also helping the economy by hopefully drawing more tourism to Decatur.”

The money was earmarked to go to the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau’s budget for tourism, Orr said.

Tom Chappell, Parks and Recreation assistant director and visitor’s bureau board member, has said the playground is one improvement the Jack Allen complex needs to continue attracting soccer tournaments.

In November 2009, three large soccer tournaments filled 1,934 hotel room nights, which generated a combined economic impact of $1,139,051, according to the visitor’s bureau.

The playground is just one of many capital projects the city’s Parks and Recreation Department hopes to pursue in an effort to improve Decatur for its residents and also attract visitors, Dunlap said. His department has given Orr a list of projects it would like to undertake for the city.

“It’s just a matter of funding becoming available,” Dunlap said.

The Jack Allen Recreational Complex has 10 international-size, lighted soccer fields. It is open from Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A place to play
The proposed playground at Jack Allen Recreational Complex will include:

■Two slides
■Sky bridge
■Rock climbing wall
■Looped monkey bars
■Curved balance beam
■Various climbers including a chain-link climber and an 8-foot vertical wall climber
J.A. Dawson & Company

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