Construction projects now underway are giving new looks to several familiar features around Chastain Park.
The park’s playground reopens this month after a $2.5 million makeover by the Chastain Park Conservancy that expands the play area fourfold to 40,000 square feet. A formal opening for the playground is scheduled for March.
Meanwhile, separate projects underway in other parts of the park will extend the jogging path along Powers Ferry Road and make the Chastain Park pool available for year-round swimming.
The expanded amenities add new swings and three ground-level slides, a “tree house” structure, a musical play area, bathrooms and open areas.
“We have a variety of modes of play,” said Rosa McHugh, executive director of the conservancy, as she visited the playground one recent afternoon. “We have places for imaginative play, musical play… You can be a daredevil if you want to.”
McHugh says the renovated playground, located at the corner of West Wieuca Road and Dudley Lane, will provide a place where families from surrounding neighborhoods can come together. It is intended to create a place in the park where parents or grandparents can watch children “run around in a safe area” or where families can have picnics while the kids play. About 85,000 children live within five miles of the park, she said.
“I think it will serve as an outdoor community center,” she said. “[It creates] a place that doesn’t exist now.”
Work began on the new playground in June, she said, and was expected to be completed by the end of last year. But weather delayed construction, she said, and a formal opening ceremony now is scheduled for March 19. A second phase of work will continue after that, she said.
Construction of a separate conservancy project continues this spring along Powers Ferry Road. The PATH Foundation is overseeing the extension of the park’s jogging path in that area by replacing the 5-foot-wide sidewalk with a 10-foot-wide trail. Pete Pellegrini of the PATH Foundation told members of the Chastain Park Civic Association that the work was slowed by rain and by required work to move utility lines along the path. The target for completing the project now is May 1.
“A lot of people are probably wondering why this is taking so long,” Pellegrini said. “We’re almost there.”
The conservancy has received complaints from residents who are concerned that joggers are running in the street or in neighboring yards rather than turning around and retracing their steps when they reach the area where the sidewalk has been torn up. “It’s a construction zone and people are walking in neighbors’ yards,” McHugh said.
Several residents attending the civic association meeting suggested adding signs to the construction area warning runners to stay out of the street. “We do have issues,” Pellegrini said. “Are we taking this seriously? The answer is yes.”
In a separate project on the other side of the park, the Chastain Park Athletic Club, the nonprofit group that operates the Chastain pool, is building a new roof above the pool so that it can operate year-round. When completed, the roof will be made of a white translucent fabric over an aluminum frame.
Jim King, chairman of the athletic club, said the roof will rise 47 feet at its highest point. The structure will stand 135 feet wide by 85 feet long, he said, and will provide cover for the pool’s swimming lanes. Other portions of the pool will remain uncovered, King said.
The roof structure costs about $700,000, King said. It is part of renovation of the pool and grounds that could cost the athletic club from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, he said.
Construction of the roof is expected to be completed this month, depending on weather, and the athletic club hopes to hold a public opening of the new structure in March, King said. “Every day we encounter a different challenge – lightning, winds, snow… pick your thing. We’re just overcoming them one at a time,” King said.
When completed, the roof will allow the club to expand uses of the pool. “Our goal is to have year-round swimming,” King said one recent afternoon as he watched workers use a tall crane to hoist beams for the roof.
Nearby, McHugh checked in with workers putting the finishing touches on structures in the new playground. She had taken a ride down one of the park’s new slides herself and thought it would play well with neighborhood kids.
“It’s fun,” she said.