RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Carter Jones Park on Richmond’s southside is in desperate need of a makeover, but some delays are slowing down the playground’s reopening.
The city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department told 8News that “new playground equipment will be installed.” But some Richmond residents are wondering when that day will finally come.
Laney Sullivan, who lives nearby, said she just wants to take her child somewhere safe to play.
“Can we trust that it’s going to happen and when is it going to happen?” she asked. “It would be nice if our public space felt safe and cared for.”
The department told 8News back in February that the playground closed because they were in the process of replacing its equipment. This week, the department said they’re in a procurement process which, city leaders said, is holding up the improvements.
Sullivan said it’s been frustrating as neighbors wait for city leaders to approve money for park upgrades. On Thursday, June 29, she attended a community meeting with leaders from the Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department. Sullivan said they discussed revisiting a master plan, which was initially brought up in 2020 and was reviewed by the Urban Design Committee. The goal of the master plan was to redesign and renovate the entire park. Because of funding issues, the focus has shifted to tackling specific areas that need immediate attention, according to Sullivan.
“At this point, we just need to fix the things that aren’t usable anymore,” she said.
Some residents’ concerns include the infrastructure in the restroom and comfort station. It’s been closed for several years, but city leaders said the Parks and Recreation Department will determine whether the city has existing budget capacity for workers to repair the bathrooms this year.
Others want the historic spring to reopen and the basketball and tennis courts to be resurfaced.
“As we’re waiting, things are not getting better. They’re just getting worse,” Sullivan said. “It’s like if you just leave something and you don’t attend to it, it’s just going to become more and more decrepit as time passes.”
The department did not comment on what type of equipment will be installed for the playground nor did they mention a timeframe. However, city leaders said the playground’s old equipment should be taken out by this Fall and the new equipment should come in by the end of the year.
City leaders added that the Parks and Recreation Department will explore the possibility of a splash pad installation.
The department has a survey for residents to fill out and provide input on the Carter Jones Master Plan. There are sections asking about accessibility, recreational programming needs, green infrastructure and more. The survey closes on Friday, August 5, at 5 p.m.