Public outcry postpones Imagination Station reno - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Public outcry postpones Imagination Station reno

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COLLEGEDALE, TN (WRCB) - Community outcry has Collegedale leaders thinking twice about making changes to the iconic wooden playground Imagination Station. The city will talk the issue over with passionate parents who've been petitioning the change.   

Collegedale officials announced the plans a few weeks ago to temporarily close down Imagination Station September 2nd and renovate with plastic and steel. Now that's been postponed. Hundreds of local parents have been pushing back. Tuesday night they have the chance to voice their concerns with city officials face to face.

"We were here as kids. We bring our own children here," petitioner Fallon Jimenez said.

What started as a community project 22 years ago has become one of, if not the most popular local playground. Collegedale's Imagination Station is known for its wooden peaks, nooks and crannies surrounded by sand.

Channel 3 first told about city plans in July, that it would soon take on a new look.

"It was a shock. I mean really because this playground has been here for so long," Jimenez said.

Collegedale officials say there are safety and accessibility issues with the current setup.

"I love the playground. It's an icon for the city, but we've just got to do better," Public Works Director Rodney Keeton said.

Local mom Ashley Kinna agrees the layout makes it hard to watch her two kids.

"You can't really see your kids when they're playing. One of mine has disappeared in there and it's kind of a panic when you know they're there, but you can't see them," Ashley Kinna said.

Nearly 500 people signed a petition to "Save Imagination Station," some suggesting using the project's estimated $300,000 on more minor adjustments.

"This is for the community. This is a community playground so everyone should understand that they have an absolute say in it," Jimenez said.

Many parents were upset the city made the decision without public input. After our original story aired, leaders say they're willing to listen.

"It's a relief really because initially we were under the impression this was already settled, that this was finalized and this was already decided," Jimenez said.

City Manager Ted Rogers tells Channel 3 no contracts have been signed yet and that there will be playground vendors making presentations at Tuesday night's meeting. He thinks the public will be on board once they hear more details, but the commission will not vote again on it yet.

The discussion starts at 6 p.m. at Collegedale City Hall. 
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