Girl at Lions Lake

Cameren Conrad, of Washington, slides at a park near Lions Lake March 8. The Washington Parks and Recreation Commission voted to remove the blue playground set on the north shore of Lions Lake. 

The days of shrieks and laughter erupting from children playing on the playground equipment at Lions Lake will soon be a thing of the past — at least temporarily — after the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission voted Wednesday to remove the playground equipment. 

“I hate to take any playground down without knowing if it can be replaced, but if none of the components are (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant — so that right there is dangerous — but if the company that made the playground in the 1990s no longer makes replacement parts, then it needs to come down,” Commissioner Tessie Steffens said prior to the 7-1 vote to remove the playground. Commissioner Gavin Woolley cast the lone vote in opposition to the playground’s removal.

“I know that playground fairly well. Because my grandson plays there frequently, I have had the chance to look at it closely,” Woolley said. “This playground is basically in the same shape that it was in August 2013 when this report was written. I don’t think it is deteriorating to where it is dangerous.”

In 2013, the city’s parks department released a memo calling for the removal and replacement of the playground. At the time, officials estimated it would cost $70,000 to replace. Now, Washington Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Dunker said it would likely cost closer to $75,000 to replace. 

“My contention is why tear it down just to tear it down when we don’t have something to put in its stead?” Woolley said. Dunker said the primary reason for the playground’s removal was because city employees have equipment in the proximity of the playground due to the removal and replacement of the pavilions around Lions Lake. 

A timeline for when the playground will be removed has not been set, according to city officials. Even prior to its removal, city leaders are hopeful that someone will come forward to help replace the playground. 

“We don’t have it in our budget anywhere,” Dunker said. He said those interested in donating should reach out to the parks department at 636-390-1080. Park commissioners said Wednesday they expect it to take up to two years before they’ll be able to replace the playground.

“It is a lot of money for one group or civic organization to come up with, but maybe there is a partnership that can happen between the group and the city,” Dunker said. “We are open to talking about it.”