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New playground at Billish Park sits behind fence, untouched

Posted: 8:52 AM, Sep 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-05 10:32:05-04

A new playground on Padre Island sits behind a fence and has yet to be touched, causing concerns for the community about when it will open.

“We have people come to the office everyday and say, ‘when’s the park going to be open, when’s the playground going to be open?’ says Marvin Jones, president of the Padre Island Property Owners Association.

“Of course, our answer is, safety first.”

This playground was the brainchild of a group of mothers on the Island. Jennifer Seymour, one of those mom’s who organized the fundraising and the community build, says it took them more than three years and $70,000 to get the playground equipment. But, now that the playground is in, no one is allowed to play on it.

Playground equipment is untouched and sits behind a fence until the park is safe enough and cleared for use.

The PIPOA says they want to take safety precautions first.

“Present time, we’re waiting for the addition of mulch to be put on the ground, as a cushion for kids playing on the swings and toys and so on, so if they fall down they don’t injure themselves,” says Jones.

However, that mulch was promised before the original ribbon cutting, which was set for Aug. 18.

Seymour says that complications began when mulch was laid before the playground was put in place. They were told this was a mistake but additionial mulch would be added to cover gaps and holes. But she has been told from the PIPOA that the contractor is behind and will lay sod throughout the rest of the 11-acre park before bringing in more mulch.

Areas still need to be filled with mulch

“If a big pile of mulch were to just be sat just right inside that fence,” says Seymour, “I think it would be very easy to round up volunteers.”

Seymour and the rest of the mothers have gathered a strong group of supporters wanting to open the playground. Many of these supporters volunteered to build the playground itself, because it was cheaper then having a company build it.

“I was really hoping that it would be available for the children to play on by now,” says an emotional Seymour, but says she’d rather see the playground open before the rest of the park.

The community has responded with hopes of opening the playground wen other equipment moves to the other end of the park.

“That would be good,” Jones said. “We don’t like to have people in the park because there’s equipment as you can see in the background over here working everyday. So, it would just be unsafe at this point.”

Seymour and the playground supporters say that this part of the park should be the only part open since it has been planned for so long.

“It’s everyone’s playground,” says Seymour, “We’re all just excited to have it open and disappointed that it’s not.”