Another $90,000 For Wheeling Playground Work

Funds join $143K already allocated for project

Photos by Casey Junkins Wheeling Director of Parks and Strategic Planning Jesse Mestrovic overlooks some of the new equipment installed at Jensen Playground on Wheeling Island.

Children are going to climb, swing and slide on new playground gear because Wheeling City Council voted to spend another $90,000 for replacement equipment this week.

That funding is in addition to the $143,000 it allocated for playground upgrades earlier this year. Along with playgrounds, refurbished basketball and tennis courts are coming up throughout the city, as those in neighborhoods such as Wheeling Island, East Wheeling, Center Wheeling, South Wheeling, North Wheeling and other areas are seeing new playing surfaces for the first time in decades.

“I think it is well overdue. It has been entirely too long since some of them have seen any attention,” Councilman Brian Wilson said. “If a neighborhood has a playground or a park it can be proud of, it promotes a positive attitude throughout the neighborhood.”

Earlier this year, council voted to spend $143,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to get the improvements going. This week, Wilson, along with Mayor Glenn Elliott, Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday, Councilman Ken Imer, Councilman Ty Thorngate and Councilman Dave Palmer voted unanimously to spend another $90,000 for more renovations and upgrades.

“All of council realizes how antiquated and unsafe some of these playgrounds are,” Palmer said. “Recreation improves the quality of life. … I know $90,000 is a lot of money. But in my mind, for what we’re getting, it’s a wise investment.”

Wheeling Director of Parks and Strategic Planning Jesse Mestrovic said many of the playgrounds in need are located in low- to moderate-income areas. He said public facility upgrades gives many residents a chance for fitness and recreation that they otherwise might not have.

“A playground is a gathering place for the community, and it obviously helps promote a healthy lifestyle,” Mestrovic said. “Some of them can’t just go to a gym or to a major park somewhere.”

New equipment arrived for the Jensen Playground on Wheeling Island this week, Mestrovic said.

The existing metal structure, replete with cracking paint, has been in place since at least 1985, he said. This will be removed and replaced by a new multi-sport court that can be used for basketball and other forms of recreation.

Wilson said some of the playgrounds were in such poor condition that they devalued the surrounding property.

“And not only were they ugly, some of them were downright dangerous,” he added.

Thalman and Elliott said council will continue upgrading playgrounds and courts throughout the city as funding is available.

“A lot of these were simply ignored for decades,” Thalman said. “If there is a playground in your neighborhood, you want it to be an asset, not a liability.”