EAST LONGMEADOW — Meadow Brook Elementary Principal Renee Lodi and Assistant Superintendent for Business Pamela Blair provided an update on the Meadow Brook Elementary adaptive playground project and requested approval for its funding at the May 6 School Committee meeting.

Following the presentation, the School Committee voted to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds as well as School Choice monies to fund the needed $495,000 for the playground project.

The proposed playground is made up of a main structure that includes slides, climbing areas and walkways that are large enough to accommodate an adult walking beside a child, Lodi said. In addition to this structure, the area will also have an adaptive swing set, a climbing dome, outdoor musical instruments, an adaptive seesaw, an adaptive carousel and a communication board for non-verbal students.

While the playground is designed for use by the school’s pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students, it will be available to the public, Lodi stated. Due to the designated age group, the area will be fenced in and have a gate, she said. It will also contain specific accessibility points.

Lodi explained during the presentation that the playground’s layout was recently modified in order to reduce costs associated with the rubber padding beneath the playground equipment. While the school originally was going to use poured-in-place rubber surfacing, this plan was changed to the use of rubber tiles instead. With this change, the tiles will be nearly equivalent in price to the poured-in-place rubber surfacing but will be easier to install and repair, Lodi said.

“Honestly, the poured-in-place rubber surfacing … is one of the most costly pieces of this project,” she stated. Lodi later stated that both poured-in-place rubber surfacing and the rubber tiles will begin to wear out after 10-12 years according to the engineering firm GZA, which is working with Lodi and Blair on the project.

Beneath the rubber tiles, the school proposed the use of poured concrete, Blair said. If this was not possible within the project’s budget, GZA also recommended that rock gravel can be used. However, this material could create uneven sections in the tiles as rocks sink, Blair stated. As a result, she confirmed that the plan was to use poured concrete.

With the committee’s May 6 approval, Lodi and Blair will now order the appropriate equipment and work with GZA to finalize a bid for installation, Blair said.

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