ST. GEORGE — City officials dedicated a new playground at Vernon Worthen Park Thursday, bringing the play area to a more central, safer location within the park.
Mayor Jon Pike, members of the St. George City Council, city staff and members of the public gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony underneath the park’s new large shade pavilions.
“I want to thank first and foremost the citizens of St. George who paid for this,” Pike said. “We built this for the citizens of St. George – it’s your park.”
The new playground’s custom-designed play area includes some unique play features in addition to the classic swings and slides. Resilient surfacing covers the playground, making for softer landings when the inevitable falls occur.
The playground is situated centrally at the north end of the park in an area previously reserved for city-owned greenhouses. A new parking lot just off 200 South means families can access the grounds without having to park on side streets.
“The playground used to be right off the street, and it was a bit dangerous for the moms trying to bring kids to the park,” project manager Millie Cockerill said.
The park’s previous playground was located directly adjacent to 400 East.
“There wasn’t a safe place to manage babies and toddlers because of the traffic,” Cockerill said. “So, we said, ‘We need to move the playground central and put in a parking lot for people to get more safely to the playground.’”
Cockerill and staff began drawing up redesign plans in January 2017 to implement the redesign visions of then-City Manager Gary Esplin and the previous leisure services director, Kent Perkins, with input from the City Council and mayor.
Construction began in August 2017, taking approximately five months to complete.
“The mayor and the elected officials – we’re especially appreciative of them because they’re the ones that helped ensure that places like this can be built where so many memories can be created,” Leisure Services Director Shane McAfee said.
In addition to the new playground, the park was made handicapped accessible with a new street crossing with road-to-sidewalk ramps and a paved walking path to the playground.
Cockerill said building the accessibility features was a “huge thing” for park planners, done in part in the interest of a wheelchair-bound woman whose home neighbors the park.
“For 30 years, she could sit across the street and look at this park, but she couldn’t get to it … and now she can come to the park,” Cockerill said of the woman. “She can access the loop path and she can enjoy the park she’s lived across from for so many years.”
Future park upgrades include the installation of lights along the walking path, improved pickleball courts, a new restroom and pavilions for existing picnic pads.
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