Should Imagination Station's wooden fort be replaced? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Should Imagination Station's wooden fort be replaced?

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COLLEGEDALE, TN (WRCB) - For 22 years, Imagination Station's wooden fort has been a Collegedale icon. Kids who grew up there now bring their children to play on it. However, with age and growing safety concerns changes were inevitable.

"We don't always come here just because its kinda hard to see my daughter playing, she's still younger," says parent, Hollie Noth.

Soon the wooden peaks, nooks and crannies will be replaced by steel and plastic but for many, the wooden fort is what makes it a magical place.

"Its wooden, if I wanted to bring my son to a plastic playground there's lots of other ones we could go to but I understand there are a lot of safety issues, it's old," says parent, Erin Bates.

"I love the playground, its an icon for the city, but we just got to do better," Public Works Director Rodney Keeton says.

Keeton is heading the project and says while the community won't help build the new park, unlike the wooden fort, some of its prized attractions like the hand print wall will move to the new playground.

"Change is hard, it really is. We're gonna do our best to make it look like a home playground," Keeton says.

However, parents like Cynthia James-Catalano won't sit silently while the playground her family loves is demolished. "I want to find out what I can do. They already voted on this but they voted on something without the public being aware of it," she says.

Keeton says he gathered feedback from visiting school groups. "I'd see a bus out here, I'd go out and talk to the leader; why do you come here? What do you like about this playground? What do you don't like," explains Keeton.

The sand and lack of sight around the entire playground topped the list so changes had to be made.

Some parents expressed concern about summer heat on plastic playgrounds. Keeton says there are two similar to the proposed playground in Collegedale already and he's never received a complaint.

The expected cost is between $300,000 and $350,000. The park will  close on September, 2 for six to eight weeks while the new Imagination Station is built.
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