By TIM CLEVELAND
Mill Creek MetroParks are in a continuous faze of self-improvement to make the parks as user-friendly and accessible as possible.
That effort continued May 30 with the ribbon cutting on the new Julianna Kurinka Children’s Play Area at the Wick Recreation Area.
The play area was named after Julianna Kurinka, who passed away in 2009 and donated $400,000 of the $650,000 needed to build the project. The remainder came from private sources and from sales of maple syrup and from a 5K race staged by Fitness Together for the past three years.
“The catalyst for this whole play area was a bequest that was received from the Julianna Kurinka estate, $400,000,” said MetroParks director of development Linda Kostka. “She would come up here with her sons when they were little and they loved the area. When she passed away, she had left us a really generous bequest in her will, specifically for the children’s play area.”
MetroParks planning manager Justin Rogers described the three components of the children’s play area.
“The adventure playground is geared toward older children ages 5-14,” he said. “It’s more of an exciting, challenging play experience. There’s a lot of moving objects, you have to rely on upper-body strength and leg strength and climbing. It’s a little bit more aerobic or exercise-based than your typical playground that has slides and swings. We have those components but it’s more the adventure type of play.
“The tot playground is geared towards younger kids ages 2-5. We themed it in a natural environment way where we have some components that resemble logs and trees and rocks. We have the tree house component as well. A lot of musical instruments so they can go out there and express themselves.
“The sand playground is a large, fun sandbox. We have a couple climbing and digging components and then the exciting one is the rock water table that allows kids to do dam up water and use it to build sand castles and dig out trenches and moats. It’s very interactive.”
There are plans to add a wet playground next year at a cost of $140,000. That playground would feature various water-based activities.
“We view the Wick Recreation Area as our regionally significant recreation area,” Rogers said. “What the playground does, is it just adds another component to the recreational aspect. We have our ball fields, the par 3 golf course, the batting cages and tennis courts. This playground serves another user group. It allows families to come here, families with kids of all ages. We’re excited that we can have a centralized location for the families to come and enjoy themselves.”