Fort Kid playgrounds reopens, but safety concerns persist

Local News
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The Fort Kid playground near World’s Fair Park has reopened, but safety remains a concern.

The city reopened the playground on Thursday after repairs were made.

The 27-year-old park was closed last year after a citizen complaint and a Knox County Health Department report cited hazards.

Park is difficult to maintain

It’s future, however, is not entirely clear.

The playground will remain open, the city said, as long as safety issues do not force it to close. 

In November, a Health Department inspector cited a number of problems, such as exposed nails, trip hazards and splintered wooden components, the city said in a news release. 

Many of the wooden components of the Fort Kid playground have aged, and repairs and maintenance of the outdated facility are challenging, the city said.

Many replacement parts are no longer available. In addition, the original retaining wall that is supporting the play area needs to be replaced, and the site does not meet the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the city. 

Future plans discussed

City officials have met with Beth Waters, who spearheaded the volunteer drive to construct the original playground, and other supporters of Fort Kid to discuss options for replacing the retaining wall and improving the play area. 

Due to underground utilities and cost factors, the City is focusing on a grassy sloped design as the most feasible option for replacing the wall. 

The Knoxville Museum of Art has expressed interest in the redesign of the area and the possibilities a sloped design might create for public art or arts-related programming, the news release said.. 

Museum of Art ‘open to partnering’ on improvements

“The museum faces Fort Kid, so this could be an exciting opportunity to bring these spaces together in such a way that they complement and enhance each other,” said David Butler, Executive Director of the Knoxville Museum of Art. “We are open to partnering on improvements to Fort Kid.”

David Brace, deputy to the mayor and the city’s chief operating officer, said the city is excited to work with Fort Kid supporters to discuss options. He anticipates closing the site again in late 2019 to do additional work.

“We look forward to partnering with Beth Waters and her team, other Fort Kid enthusiasts and KMA to make improvements to this park,” Brace said. “It’s always been a great amenity, and we want to assure that it continues to be a valued asset for all citizens for many years to come.”
 

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