New playground equipment to get base material, hopefully set up by July 4

EVART - Shredded tire will be laid as the base for newly purchased playground equipment in Evart to be setup at Riverside West.

The Evart City Council voted Monday to purchase the shredded tire, in hopes of getting the playground ready for use by the Fourth of July.

The initial cost for the tires was estimated at $10,750, but the cost for the city would be about $6,987 after a private donor told City Manager Zack Szakacs they would offset the cost by $3,762.

The city also will pay a $700 shipping fee to get the shredded tire from Wyandotte to Evart. Szakacs said he is looking for other donors to offset the cost, but right now the money will come from the Riverside East and West fund.

"If a young child was to fall off the equipment the material is really soft, it seems like a water bed," Szakacs said. "They would just bounce around on it."

However, the approval of purchasing the shredded tires was not without controversy, with worries about the toxicity and possible dangers of the tires.

The council first voted to not purchase the tires, but it took a second vote with the stipulation that Szakacs would be approved to buy the tires, only if, after further investigation, he found them to be safe. If the research found the tires dangerous, Szakacs was approved to purchase sand as an alternative.

Public Works Director Buck Vallad submitted a proposal for sand and the estimated cost was $5,000.

Szakacs said he did not recommend sand as the first option because it would have to be replaced often. The shredded tires would not deteriorate and have a much longer lifespan.

"Remember when the old playground had sand all over it?" Szakacs asked. "It's not there anymore. The sand is gone."

Al Weinberg, downtown development director, said from his experience in recreation he recommends the use of the shredded tires.

"Everything else deteriorates or becomes a litter box," Weinberg said.

In February, the council purchased the playground equipment from elementary schools in West Bloomfield Township in metro Detroit, agreeing to spend no more than $22,000 on the equipment, including payment for a company to tear down the equipment at the old school, deliver the pieces to Evart and and set it up in Riverside West. The value of the playground equipment was estimated to be at $90,000.

The council also made a decision to split the cost of a sign to recognize the Evart High School track team for its state championship, but also keep the Dulcimer Fun Fest sign on the way into town.

At the last council meeting, Szakacs told the council that the Michigan Department of Transportation would only allow one sign under the Welcome to Evart signs, so the council had to decide between the track team and the dulcimers.

Szakacs got permission from MDOT to purchase the sign for the track team and keep the dulcimer sign by promising to switch the signs out.

The Dulcimer Fun Fest sign will be up in May, June and July, while the track sign will be up the rest of the year.