Our big reveal is here! This time, instead of hearing from us, we thought we would let Mark Palamarchuck, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism for the City of Portsmouth, tell you how their amazing new park renovation came to be and the response they have received from their community. 

Although it was still technically useable, the previous playground at Portsmouth City Park was roughly 25 years old and beyond its operational life.  Many of the parts were beginning to rust, and the components had become discolored from the sun.  The area where the playground was installed, including the picnic shelter, had recessed over time which caused severe drainage issues.  The project to replace the previous playground had been identified as a need for a few years, however, securing the necessary funding proved to be more difficult than anticipated.  

During the FY2021 budget cycle, we were able to identify CDBG grant funding to cover the costs of replacing the playground and existing park fencing.  We had $1 million available for the project, which got us to think bigger than just replacing what was there with the same or similar equipment.  

The amount of available funds enabled us to solicit an RFP in which we could stipulate certain components that would transform the previous playground into a true destination playground.  Some of the components included EPDM pour in place (PIP) surfacing which was a large upgrade over the engineered mulch that was there previously.  We also indicated that we wanted to see the most play value that our budget would allow.  It is important to note that Portsmouth City Park is our most popular park by a large margin.  We knew we wanted to ensure that the new playground would match the demand to provide play opportunities for a large amount of children at any one time.

We received seven proposals through the RFP process, all from experienced, reputable playground companies.  Our internal team evaluated the proposals and although many were good, two companies stood out above the rest because of the amount of play value the playgrounds provided.  After interviews and a second round of evaluations, there became a clear top choice for the evaluation team, which was Burke playground equipment supplied through All Recreation.  

The community response has been overwhelming, to put it lightly.  During construction, we had parents and children at the park everyday fighting the urge to get on the equipment.  Through the hard work of the All Recreation staff and contractors, the new playground opened on August 28, 2021 to a large crowd of families.  Since then, the playground has been extremely popular and is used at all hours of the day.  The social media buzz went through the roof, and the positive comments from the children and parents have been fantastic.

- Written by Mark Palamarchuck, Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for the City of Portsmouth