Columbus Signature Academy Lincoln Elementary School hopes to upgrade its aging playground by investing a half million dollars in an expansive upgrade featuring public gathering spaces and outdoor classrooms.

The plan, formally known as the Linden Project, is modeled from an original concept for a playground developed in 1966 that did not happen, said Brett Findley, CSA Lincoln principal.

The name of the project was selected as a tribute to the architect who designed the original concept, Gunnar Birkerts, who had called for Linden trees in the design, Findley said.

Details of the Linden Project were unveiled Thursday night at the school, where more than 30 people attended to hear about plans for the project.

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Designed to be completed in several phases, the playground proposal has been developed over the past 18 months.

Plans have included discussions with the school’s parent-teacher organization who wanted to do something to improve the aging playground, said PTO president Tracy Kiser.

The school and the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. joined in the discussion which also involved input from CSA Lincoln students about what they wanted, Kiser said.

The overall goal with the improved play area is to not only benefit students at CSA Lincoln, but the community at large, Kiser said.

Among the key features being proposed are accessible playground equipment, sculptural benches, a butterfly garden and the Joe Brown Globe, a wooden climbing structure modeled like a globe to match Columbus’ unique architecture.

Hitchcock Design Group, Indianapolis, designed the playground area, including areas for kickball and sidewalk games and greenspace.

The school’s parent teacher organization has committed to a fundraising effort for the project and BCSC will provide some financial support, said BCSC Superintendent Jim Roberts.

The school corporation will know more about how much financial support will be available one it completes an assessment of all 11 of its elementary school playgrounds, Roberts said.

BCSC district-wide playground improvements will be made possible through $2 million in general obligation bonds the district approved last year and will be allocated once needs at the different schools have been identified, Roberts said.

Safety and accessibility requirements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act are among the top issues that need to be addressed first, he said.

Kiser said she hopes the playground will become another destination for families and visitors in the area since CSA Lincoln is one of the locations featured in Columbus’ architectural tour. The improved playground will be beneficial to the surrounding area as well, she said.

“In the evening and on the weekends, we want to see the Lincoln-Central neighborhood have a nice beautiful space, accessible play space of their own right in the heart of the neighborhood,” Kiser said. “I think a refreshed, updated, current environment could really reinvigorate it and could really encourage folks to come out.”

In the meantime, officials will work toward raising money for the playground project, said Jess Schnepp, fundraising coordinator.

“I’m excited to see the community get involved because amazing things happen when people pull together,” Schnepp said. “I’m looking forward to is seeing the excitement spread from what we’ve started and see it continue to grow,” Schnepp said.

Details about the project

For more information on the Linden Project or to make a donation, visit

http://thelindenproject.weebly.com/

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com