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The Town Council has approved up to $60,000 for the emergency replacement of playground equipment at Fountain Park.

Town Manager Grady Miller and Community Services Director Rachael Goodwin addressed the issue before the council at its Feb. 16 regular session. Miller said staff has determined it is important to get the equipment replaced as soon as possible.

Goodwin said that during a routine staff inspection of the equipment in January, it was noted that a staircase was badly cracked and cracks were showing up in slides. There are also signs of rusting and corrosion related to metal parts of the equipment.

Staff looked into the replacement of the stairway feature only, but found that cost to be excessive, and a matching sculpted dinosaur feature is no longer available. This, along with the other issues discovered in the inspection, prompted staff to ask council for authorization to replace the entire playground structure designated for two- to five-year-old children.

The specific structure in question was installed in 2005 and is now 15 years old, approaching the normal end of its usefulness, according to Goodwin. Structures installed in 2005 are scheduled for replacement in 2025, bringing this in five years early.

Goodwin noted that this is a high-use play structure.

Councilman Gerry Friedel asked about the impact of UV rays on the life of the equipment, and if there is any way to mitigate that impact.

“There is a significant heat impact on our equipment, but there has been improvement in the products over the past 15 years,” Goodwin said. “We also have the shade canopy, which does extend the life of the equipment.”

The council vote in favor of the playground equipment was a unanimous 7-0.