The two-week winter break was hard on The Commons playground and its signature attraction, the Luckey Climber.
Kids having fun during the holidays resulted in heavier use of the 5-year-old, 42-foot-tall web of ropes, mesh and platforms where young climbers explore, Commons manager Shanda Sasse said.
The Climber may soon be out of commission for a short time for some routine maintenance, Sasse said. Right now, all of the issues with the structure are minor, mostly just bumps and scratches that need to be repaired, she said.
Even though there aren’t any safety concerns, The Commons staff needs to make sure the structure stays that way, Sasse said.
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However, routine maintenance for the Luckey Climber means bringing in technicians from the company that originally installed it in order to make sure it is returned to optimal condition.
“They’ll go over all the nuts and bolts and make sure everything is secure,” Sasse said.
Near the Luckey Climber, Paul Amiot of Columbus was watching his three kids run around The Commons playground Tuesday.
Although the overall indoor playground appears to be safe, Amiot said he would like to see more attention paid to the foam tiles lining all the floors in the area. A few of these are starting to peel up, creating ledges which could cause kids to trip, he said.
Those are exactly the kinds of problems The Commons staff wants to identify, Sasse said.
“Parents are our eyes and ears when it comes to these things,” Sasse said.
If parents spot safety issues, they should report them to the Commons staff, she said.
No date for the maintenance work has been set, but Sasse said she would like to see the technicians begin work soon — possibly in the next few months.
Most of the work will be done overnight, to minimize disruptions for parents who rely on the space as a play area. However, depending on the work needed, there could be short closures in the playground area during the two-day repair and maintenance work, Sasse said.
Total repair costs are likely to run $3,000 to $5,000, with funds coming from the center’s operating budget, Sasse said. This includes airfare, hotel and per-diem expenses for two technicians to travel to Columbus to check the equipment.
There are other capital projects on The Commons’ list for this year in addition to the playground area, Sasse said.
During the past five years, about 200 chairs used for seating during shows in the upstairs Nugent-Custer Performance Hall have worn out or broken.
Prior to first opening, the Commons purchased 850 chairs that cost between $125,000 and $150,000, Sasse said.
Plans to replace the broken chairs are in the earliest planning stages, Sasse said. She doesn’t yet know whether matching replacements can be purchased. If not, all the chairs might need to be replaced.
The Commons never uses all of its current chairs, Sasse said. Most events require about 400 chairs, with the most popular plays and concerts sometimes requiring 600. So at this point, there is no chance of running short during any upcoming events, Sasse said.
Another capital expense item being considered is larger monitors in the main performance area, said Jamie Brinegar, director of business services for Columbus Park and Recreation Department. The parks department oversees The Commons, in addition to The Commons board.
Larger monitors have been requested by some who have rented the space in the performance area, Brinegar said. The larger monitors could be added this year, although no timeline has been set for the upgrade, he said.
Luckey Climber maintenance: Basic servicing and maintenance of the Luckey Climber and the playground area. This has not yet been scheduled, but will likely take place soon, Commons Manager Shanda Sasse said. The project will likely cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
New chair replacement: Since opening five years ago, the Commons has lost about 250 chairs to wear and tear. No timeline or budget has yet been set in this project.
Monitor replacement: Some who have rented the performance space have requested larger monitors in the main performance area. No timeline or budget has yet been set, although this could be upgraded this year.