The Bedford Select Board this week executed a contract with the largest supplier of outdoor recreation equipment in New England for the upcoming refurbishing of the center campus playground on Mudge Way.
Work is expected to begin Sept. 25 – the Monday after Bedford Day – and continue for about a month, according to Recreation Director Josh Smith. He noted that this keeps the playground available all summer and on Bedford Day, and also provides sufficient lead time for ordering new equipment.
The contractor, M.E. O’Brien & Sons of Medfield, will receive about $282,000, appropriated for this fiscal year as a project financed through the Community Preservation Fund.
The original Bedford Community Playground was built on the site in 1989 as an all-encompassing volunteer project incorporating design, construction, and fundraising. Several years later it was upgraded by the town to comply with revised safety measures.
According to the Department of Public Works, which is collaborating with the Recreation Department on the playground improvements, the project goals are not only repair of existing structures, which are about midway through their expected life span but also “addition of new equipment as space and budget allow.”
Also, as DPW Director David Manugian told the Select Board Monday, “A primary improvement will be accessibility.” That applies not only to some of the activity structures but also access to the area and a new rubberized surface.
In addition, using hardscape improvement funds allocated for the coming fiscal year, there are plans to add wheelchair-accessible ramps connecting the playground and the parking areas. The walkway leading to the playground entrance will also be made accessible as part of rehabilitation of the asphalt walkways around the playground and the nearby Town Center wing hosting Kids Club.
Board member Margot Fleischman asked if it is being considered to remove the current playground fencing, which she said “significantly reduces the running-around space. It seems like the kids are being corralled.” She also referenced issues with bottlenecks at the single gated entry.
Manugian pointed out that fencing defines the scope of the playground and separates it from other nearby uses. Board member Emily Mitchell verified the need to make sure there is separation from adjacent Field E, primarily used for softball.
“I’m really glad to know we are trying to prioritize access while keeping as much of the current equipment as possible and just refurbishing,” Mitchell commented.
There are also plans for new backless benches within the interior of the playground for user comfort.