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Lions Park playground reopens with state-of-the-art equipment

By Dawn Burleigh

City of Orange held a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony celebrating the much-anticipated opening of Lions Park on Wednesday, January 20. Hours afterwards, the parking lot remained full as laughter from playing children filled the air.

The new park has many great features for all to enjoy including covered seating areas, a padded path throughout the park, and equipment designed for specific age groups. The park also offers ADA compliance for an inclusive play experience.

“No one has a park like this. Not Vidor, not Beaumont. It’s one of a kind,” Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr. said. “Every piece of equipment is adaptive.”

The new playground equipment is designed to be all inclusive friendly, from the extra-wide spacings on the playground equipment, to the specially-designed “swing” that is designed to fit children in wheelchairs.  In areas throughout the park are musical activity stations for those with sensory issues.

The play area was locked in February 2020 after a team of engineers declared the equipment has met its life expectancy and is no longer safe for children to play upon.

In September 2019, the park was also part of the discussion for the budget were underway.

At the time, the council has requested $530,000 be set aside for the park in this budget and then have more funds set aside next year for the park.

Ways to improve the park have been mentioned during budget talks each year. One year, the concentration was on improving the pavilion used for birthdays and other family events.

Depending on one’s source, commercial playground equipment can range from 15-25 years if made of steel, 10 -15 years if it is made of wood. The previous play equipment was 20 years old.

Moving forward, the city wanted to make sure the play equipment continued with the goal of the volunteers who built the previous equipment by making it all inclusive for all children to enjoy.

After taking time to decide which playground layout to approve, a playground layout by May recreation was approved by council on June 2020.

The vendor was given a budget of $450,000 for the playground and the design had to be ADA inclusive.

May Recreation Equipment & Design, L.P. is a greater Houston area commercial-grade park and playground equipment company whose primary purpose is to provide its clients with recreational design concepts emphasizing safety and fun while utilizing competitively priced products manufactured by companies who share our high standards of ethics, quality and reliability, according to its website.

Mayor Larry Spears Jr. has served on the council since 2014. When he first ran for a seat, his position was to find ways to bridge the gaps to improve the city for the children.

– Ginger Broomes contributed to this article