Germantown Park Brings Community Together To Play
by Cynthia Cusick
Everybody's Tree House at Riverdale Park in Germantown, Tenn., is a place for the entire community to experience nature through play. The leaders of Germantown leveraged NLC's U.S. Communities program and their partnership with PlayCore and GameTime to create an environment that would bring the community together, provide children of all abilities an opportunity to play and interact with one another and serve as a replicable model for other communities across the country.
The City of Germantown, a rapidly growing, suburban community outside of Memphis, was keenly aware that the land that could be used for parks and playgrounds was rapidly disappearing and none of the existing playgrounds were designed to be accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
City officials realized that Riverdale Park, an existing community resource, had the potential to be more to its surrounding neighbors and all the residents of the city. Situated next to Riverdale Elementary School and Baptist Rehabilitation Germantown Hospital, the park was in a prime location and was already being used by the school, hospital and the surrounding community.
The city, hospital and other community stakeholders teamed with playground manufacturer GameTime and the Natural Learning Initiative from North Carolina State University to make Everybody's Tree House a reality. Having already established a working relationship with GameTime, Parks and Recreation Director Pam Beasley knew they would be good partners for the project.
"Their solutions are always community focused, not driven by the offerings in their catalog, and concentrate more on play experiences and activities," said Beasley.
Dealing with bids for such a project is often an involved process, but GameTime and PlayCore are a U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance supplier company, which makes it easier for communities like the City of Germantown to expedite the procurement process and get their playground built quicker.
Once the residents of Germantown heard about the plan for Riverdale, there was a flood of support. Inspired by the community's enthusiasm and generosity, PlayCore offered to match any funding received for the project, including a $150,000 donation from Baptist Rehabilitation Hospital. The city also contributed the $80,000 needed for site preparation.
The community support didn't stop there, however. More than 150 volunteers showed up on build day. It was obvious that everyone was excited about the promise and potential of Riverdale Park. Not only did Everybody's Treehouse contribute to Germantown's community-building goals, it is an example of how a well-planned play environment can bring community groups together and positively affect the lives of people of all ages and abilities.
Transforming park resources to make them vital for citizens is a responsibility that is becoming more exciting than ever, with the advent of new options and program resources for recreation and play.
For more information, go to www.gametime.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "City play."
The Power of Urban Play
GameTime and PlayCore also provide cities and towns with research that helps them specifically. The Power of Urban Play is a resource guidebook that considers the viewpoints and work of more than 40 urban park and recreation leaders. This resource helps identify the important role of play in urban communities, define the trends and unique characteristics of urban playgrounds, and recognize the best practices for developing and maintaining wholesome play environments as community assets.
In addition, GameTime offers all of its customers resource guides on maintenance and supervision, to help them ensure that their play space remains a vital part of the urban environment and provides citizens with an active space to play, be together and stay healthy.
NLC is a national sponsor of U.S. Communities, the leading national government purchasing cooperative, providing world class government procurement resources and solutions to local and state government agencies, school districts, higher education institutes and nonprofits looking for the best overall supplier government pricing. It combines the potential cooperative purchasing power of up to 90,000 public agencies, so cities are able to access the best overall supplier government pricing through negotiated contracts at the best possible rate.
Details: For more information, visit U.S. Communities at www.uscommunities.org.