I founded Community Well to offer community-building consulting services to nonprofits and political advocacy organizations. I work with nonprofits that provide health, education, job, and housing services and with initiatives that promote progressive public policies.
On January 7, 2021, A Playground for Walker submitted our Site Plan application and Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Plan application to Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services (NDS) for their review and, hopefully, approval.
NDS has 60 days to review the application. Then, we are given time to make any City-requested changes to the plan. Next, NDS has a further 45 days to review the updated plan. Once the application is approved, we can start building – if conducive with the school schedule at that time.
In addition to installing a playground, we are funding renovation of the ADA pathway that Walker shares with Crow Rec Center, making both more accessible to the community. We are talking with contractors about a discounted rate for updating the pathway. If your company is interested in being part of this community project, please email Christa at email@example.com.
As always, thank you, Charlottesville, for your support! And a special thanks to the City Engineer for advising us on the site plan over the last month. We appreciate the help from the City Engineer to design the plan, in particular the stormwater management, in the most efficient, including cost-effective, way.
Walker Upper Elementary students have chosen the winning playground design! We are excited to be working with playground vendor MTS Recreations to bring this fun play equipment to Walker.
The winning design was one of two finalists created based on feedback from students/other community members through an online survey and two live sessions.
439 people took the online survey in May and June: – 37% were Walker 6th graders – 34% 5th graders – 13% parents – 4% other community members
One of the survey questions had students rank their favorite play activities. They are, in order: Swing Run Climb Walk Bounce Spin Hang Sit Ride Jump Balance Slide Perch
We used the live feedback sessions, which were led by amazing volunteers from VMDO, to refine answers from the survey. For example, sliding is low on the list of favorite activities. However, when we asked students if they wanted no slides or one slide, they chose one slide.
Next steps: We are working with Timmons Group to create the final site survey and CAD (computer-aided design) that is required to apply for a building permit from Cville Neighborhood Development Services. Thank you to Timmons for donating part of their services!
Once we submit our application to NDS and the City Engineer, they have 60 days to review it. They then give us time to make any changes that they have identified. The city then has 45 days for a second review and deciding whether to issue the permit to build.
Finally, our building timeline will further depend on the school schedule at that time, ie whether students are in school and whether we can build when they are. We are confident that the playground will be built by the end of summer 2021, and it may be done sooner.
An issue that lengthened our timeline is that the ADA pathway from the lower parking lot that Walker shares with Crow Pool & Rec Center is out of code. A Playground for Walker agreed to fund and oversee its renovation to ensure that the playground is accessible to all.
Our agreeing to update the ADA pathway for the City put our project over 6,000 sq ft. The City told us that meant we are now responsible for designing and implementing a stormwater management system, despite the fact that if we were to build only the playground, we would not have to create and implement stormwater management, and despite the fact that the footprint of the updated ADA pathway will not be substantially different than what is already there. The stormwater management system is relatively expensive, adding about 20% onto our costs.
We asked if we could submit applications to build the two projects separately, the first as the ADA pathway and the second as the playground, which would mean we would not need to implement a stormwater management system. We spent several meetings talking with City folks about this possibility but the request was denied. The City Engineer acknowledged that if we had built the ADA pathway without telling the City that we were going to build a playground, as well, then we would not have been asked to implement a stormwater management system.
We were next told by the City Engineer that his office could help us design the stormwater management system, reducing the $15k-20k price tag. While we tried to follow the instructions required to secure that assistance from the City Engineeer, we were ultimately unsuccessful.
With financial contributions from the community, we have been able to move forward with sufficient funding to cover the additional project costs. However, if there are unexpected costs or volunteer labor falls through, we will have to do more fundraising.
City funding has been identified that could be used for the stormwater management, since it will benefit the City. If you would like to see the City route that funding to the playground, please consider emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again to the Charlottesville community, including Cville Parks & Rec and Neighborhood Development Services, for your support in making a Walker playground a reality!
A Playground for Walker wants to hear from you! Click here to register for our final community feedback session.
Virtual community feedback session:
What do we want in a Walker playground?
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
6:00 – 7:00 pm
Students, parents, and other Charlottesville community members are invited to attend. Register by clicking here. If you are not able to attend the session, you can still make your voice heard by completing this survey. If you have any questions, contact email@example.com.
The Walker playground team wants folks visiting our website to know about resources that are available to you if you need help during this difficult time. Visit the Support Cville website for links to organizations providing assistance with everything from food to rent: https://www.supportcville.com/en/get-support.
While we continue to work behind the scenes to progress the project, our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that many in our community are facing serious, immediate challenges to their wellbeing due to the pandemic. We are grateful for all of those who are offering mutual assistance and are individually supporting those efforts.
We look forward to Charlottesville upper elementary students having a playground where they can swing, run, climb, and more, when it is safe to return to schools and playgrounds. Now more than ever, we want to let our students know that they are loved and cared for, and their wellbeing is important to all of us.
Parents of students attending Charlottesville City Schools would like to support our community in building a playground for Walker Upper Elementary School! If you are interested in getting involved, including providing feedback, please sign up to receive updates by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to financially support the project, you can make a donation here.
Currently, Walker does not have a playground. Instead, it has a basketball court, a four square section of the court, and a soccer field (which is often unusable due to wear and tear from weekend soccer games). This is problematic, as it limits the options students have for critically important physical movement during the day. In a 2018 study by Oregon State University, researchers found that one of the contributors to quality recess experiences for students was “plenty of choices of play equipment and games.”
During a school project that engaged all sixth-graders at Walker in fall 2018, students identified a playground as one of the top things they wanted for their school.
The lack of a Walker playground is particularly unfortunate because it is at this upper elementary divide that economic and racial disparities in Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) become even more pronounced, per public data. Walker has the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students of any CCS school, and its percentage of students of color is higher than the citywide average, as well. We want for all students to have access to adequate spaces to play.
In addition to Walker students and parents, numerous other community members and organizations support A Playground for Walker, including:
Walker principal Dr. Adam Hastings
Walker Buford United PTO
American Institute of Architects Central Virginia Emerging Professionals
We are looking to community stakeholders, including students, for information on the best play materials to serve student need. All Charlottesville community members are invited to attend a virtual community feedback session onTuesday, June 2, 2020, from 6:30-7:30pm. Please email email@example.com for details to join the call or for other ways to participate if you are not able to join on June 2.
Thank you for taking time to learn more about A Playground for Walker!
Read local press coverage of A Playground for Walker, including an endorsement by the Daily Progress: