Fixing holes in the shelter roof, installing new equipment and fencing and making other upgrades at Morningside Park and three other city playgrounds was accomplished thanks to $500,000 in private funding a year ago.
But for Lisa Newby and her grandchildren, who can see the improvements at Morningside Park from their back door, the result has been a priceless opportunity — the chance to play in a safe environment.
The upgrades took place as a result of Race2Play, an initiative of The Columbus Park Foundation. During the program’s reunion celebration Thursday, Newby said the park upgrades have made the playground “100 times better.”
And she said her grandchildren love the renovated park.
Based on what she hears from residents, Priscilla Scalf said it’s an opinion shared by other children in the neighborhood. She is executive director of Eastside Community Center, which is near Morningside Park.
Scalf said the kids in the neighborhood have been more comfortable coming and using the facilities at the playground since the park foundation and its partners cut the ribbon on improvements last year.
She added the park has benefited the neighborhood as a whole by bringing the community together in their effort to look after the park.
Chip Orben, the park foundation’s vice president, said the organization’s goal is to continue to strengthen a sense of community around the city’s neighborhood parks.
He said that was the purpose of Thursday’s celebration, which offered free food and activities and a chance to plant vegetables in a new community garden built by Hackman’s Farm Market and Cummins volunteers.
Newby’s grandchildren were part of a handful of kids planting tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables in the park’s new garden. She said she appreciates that and other efforts by the city’s parks system to provide opportunities for kids to do something other than play video games.