Lodi Welcomes Newest Playground To Parks Family

Lodi City Councilmen Mark Chandler, Parks Director Jeff Hood, Parks Committee member Bill Mitchell and neighborhood kids cut the ribbon welcoming Henry Glaves' new park playground.

Lodi City Councilmen Mark Chandler, Parks Director Jeff Hood, Parks Committee member Bill Mitchell and neighborhood kids cut the ribbon welcoming Henry Glaves' new park playground.

This past weekend Lodi held a ribbon cutting to officially welcome the newest park playground to Lodi with the cutest audience ever- a bunch of the local neighborhood kids. There were 20 or so kids laughing, climbing, and playing on the new playground equipment, and miraculously parents got about half of those kids to hold still long enough to help the parks department cut an oversized ribbon. I’ve been to quite a few ribbon cuttings, and I have to say this one was easily the most fun. All of the families were genuinely happy to be there. The entire park isn’t new, but what all kids refer to as the “park” (the playground) is. Henry Glaves park, the park right behind St. Peters, got a major upgrade when the old playground equipment was taken out and an entirely new playground was installed. We live in that neighborhood and since the new playground has been installed, we’ve noticed a huge spike in the amount of families using the park, ourselves included. We all know the City of Lodi has been financially stressed, so for them to be able to set aside enough money for a new park is really something that we as citizens, are very grateful for.

The new Henry Glaves playground

The new Henry Glaves playground

The new park is pretty impressive. It’s a beautiful park that you really should take some time to check out. The playground equipment is fun, innovative, and challenging, providing lots of room for kids’ imaginations go wild.  Bill Mitchell, who is with the Parks and Recreation Committee shared, “Playground equipment presents children with physical challenges that encourages them to take risks. And when they overcome those risks they develop a sense of accomplishment that leads to higher self esteem. Children use their imaginations on the playground whether by themselves or with others.” I think that’s the biggest difference between the original park and this one. This park is innovative and physically challenging in a way the older playground no longer was. Honestly, even as an adult, I was excited to go play on this new playground! Maybe the best way to describe the park is by saying it just looks really, really fun.

Jeff Hood, Parks Director, welcomes new park while the cuter audience members help hold the ribbon.

Jeff Hood, Parks Director, welcomes new park while the cuter audience members help hold the ribbon.

The old Henry Glaves Park was in a sorry state. I’m pretty sure the old playground equipment was just as old as me, and you know, after that many years out in the sun, things start going down hill (for both parties).  What I didn’t know, is that the playground was in such bad shape that several components had already been removed by the city in recent years because they were no longer safe. There’s a lot of parks in Lodi that are not in good shape. According to city’s the Fall 2018 Activity Guide, since 2000, four play structures have been removed due to aged equipment and safety hazards, as well as lack of funding (Beckman Park, Emerson Park, Candy Cane and Lodi Lake Park north). Three other parks have had major elements removed due to safety hazards, lack of available parts for outdated equipment, and insufficient funds to support the playground replacements. The anticipated lifespan of an average neighborhood playground is 15 years according to industry experts, yet the median age of Lodi playgrounds is 20 years, with many being 25+ years (like I said, I think the Henry Glaves playground equipment was the same age as me).

This kid doing what kids do best and being crazy at the park!

This kid doing what kids do best and being crazy at the park!

We all know the city’s budget been tight with no easy solutions. Parks, just like every other department, have felt the burn. That’s why it really is amazing they were able to install this new playground! At the ribbon cutting Jeff Hood shared, “The equipment that was here was a generation old. We’ve cut cost and we’ve redirected funds from other projects. This playground cost $150,000 but it was worth it so that this community has a modern and safe playground.” The city is really hoping Measure L will pass. If it does, Glaves will be the first of what is hoped to be several parks replaced in the coming years. Many citizens in Lodi aren’t sitting around waiting to see if that measure passes, and are taking this into their own hands. Ellen Ashbaugh with the Lodi Lions Club has been fundraising to replace some of the equipment at Emerson Park in memory of her husband. The Lodi Tokay Rotary sets a portion of funds aside after every year’s Lodi Craft Beer Fest to support Lodi Lake. Steve Dutra has been crusading to get new playground equipment in at Candy Cane park for years, there's been a couple of citizens working on grants in hopes of obtaining new equipment, and there's a woman who has been raising awareness about the park's missing playground in hopes the the squeaky wheel will get some oil. The Lodi Satellite Rotary hosted the Color Me Crazy run to raise funds for Lodi parks, and I know there’s lots of other groups in nearly every small community campaigning funds to improve their neighborhood parks.

Like I said, my daughter could not be happier for the new pak :) Photo from  Lodi Parks & Rec Facebook .

Like I said, my daughter could not be happier for the new pak :) Photo from Lodi Parks & Rec Facebook.

The new Henry Glaves Park really is beautiful, and we are super lucky to have it. My daughter could not be happier, and I know the kids and parents in our neighborhood are thrilled to be walking distance from this great new playground. At the ribbon cutting City Council Member Mark Chandler shared, “Personally, I’m a strong believer that playgrounds and a healthy park system are part of what makes Lodi livable and lovable.” It’s true. In addition to all of the other benefits, parks help build community. When you’re there you talk with your neighbors, your kids play together, and you get to meet all the neighborhood dogs. Isn’t a tight knit community key to making a place livable and lovable? I’m excited for the other communities who will also soon be getting their new parks. Whether it be through Measure L or through private funding, Lodians are already doing their part to step up and make sure this young generation has fun, safe and creative spaces to play. Thanks to the Lodi Parks Department for making the new Henry Glaves Park possible and bringing smiles to lots of happy little faces.