Watertown planning for playground upgrades

Aug. 6—WATERTOWN — On a sunny summer afternoon on Friday, the Portage Street playground remained quiet of children playing.

But the city's Parks and Recreation Department has big plans for the small playground that consists of two swings and a short tunnel between two tiny slides.

The playground will undergo a $90,000 overhaul in the city's five-year capital plan next year. Playgrounds at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and at Kostyk Field also will replaced in the coming years.

In all, the city plans to spend $285,000 on the three projects, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Scott M. Weller said.

The playground upgrades are part of the department's long range plans to improve its equipment.

The city's parks and recreation department has 10 playgrounds that dot the city.

"We've been getting them done," he said.

During the past several years, the North Star playground on New York Avenue and equipment at North Hamilton and Academy streets were replaced.

Four of the 10 playgrounds are used for the city's summer playground program. Those playgrounds are staffed and provide activities and free boxed lunches and snacks this summer.

The city also will use $17,500 in Community Block Development Grant funding to make improvements at the North Hamilton Street and North Star playgrounds this year.

Project specs are getting prepared to get the work done by the end of the year, said Michael A. Lumbis, the city's planning and community director.

"We're just adding a few things," he said.

The CDBG funds will make the North Hamilton Street playgrounds Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

More equipment and a sidewalk will be added.

The North Star site will be getting some benches and picnic tables.

The CDBG funds are eligible because those two neighborhoods are made up more than 50% lower income families.