VALPARAISO | The city's Parks Department is seeking proposals for a consultant to work with a few hundred kids on a master plan for the ValPlayso playground site.
The department plans to rebuild the playground next year, but, before it does, it wants to take a look at the area around it to see what other changes might be needed, such as restrooms and parking, Parks Director John Seibert said at a recent park board meeting.
"The existing playground will be renovated, and we will keep some of the elements and build more around it," Seibert said. "We want to take it to the next generation. We will take the good things in the current site and try to find other attractions the kids will like."
When planning for ValPlayso 20 years ago, the parks held sessions at which more than 600 children helped choose the elements they wanted included. Now the department wants the children of this generation to have the same opportunity.
Seibert said the new playground will address special needs more than has ever been done at any of the city's parks and perhaps in the whole area.
"Cost will be a factor, but we will be looking at all that over the next few months," he said.
The Parks Foundation has agreed to fund the project.
The parks also are looking at creating trail heads at several locations in the city where people who are biking or hiking can use a restroom, rest and get a drink of water.
Seibert said the first two trail heads are planned for Rogers Lakewood Park and at Foundation Meadows. Others also could be put at Central Park Plaza and ValPlayso as part of the construction planned at both in 2014.
The sites will have maps of the entire pathway system, and the officials are looking at adding wayfinding signs similar in design to those proposed by Kendig Keast Collaborative as part of the U.S. 30 corridor study last year.