Three new playgrounds in Albemarle County, including this play set at Agnor-Hurt Elementary, total more than $360,000.
Brand new playgrounds are popping up around Albemarle County, carrying a hefty price tag. But schools say the equipment goes beyond a fun recess, and that safety and good health are worth it.
Kids at Agnor-Hurt Elementary have a new home for recess. The $120,000 playground is one of three built this summer across Albemarle County. It was not cheap, but the county says it is important to fix up the play spots, some of which were decades old.
"It needed to be updated at least, and instead of updating it we got a new playground," said the school's Assistant Principal Doug Granger.
There are two others, at Crozet Elementary and Scottsville Elementary, totaling more than $360,000 for the county. It has some parents, used to hearing about the school's money woes, wondering where the cash came from.
"Each year we review the existing playgrounds that are on the ground now," explained Albemarle County Parks and Recreation Director Bob Crickenberger.
The county's capital improvement plan has money budgeted out each year specifically for facilities and maintenance projects like playground replacement. Then, the parks and rec department chip in half for the projects.
"This has been an ongoing endeavor between the two of us to update the playgrounds that are 20 years-plus old," said Crickenberger.
Many times that means replacing the playgrounds because old equipment can be a safety hazard for students.
"Just the quality of the material itself; it's much better and its much safer," Crickenberger said.
A recess without a playground could also cut exercise time.
"Children are actually exercising but they're playing, not realizing that they're exercising," Crickenberger added.
So while the cost may seem steep for slides and swings, the county believes the costs are worth the benefits.
A lot of talk is surrounding the new playground at Crozet Elementary. Parents are saying it is too small, but the county says that equipment was almost two decades old and needed to be replaced and despite its size, the new set in Crozet actually has more for kids to do.