Bradenton on top of Riverwalk maintenance

cnudi@bradenton.comFebruary 27, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The rainy weather Tuesday may have delayed city workers from doing maintenance at the Riverwalk children's playground, but it did not keep everyone away.

John Wood, 25, was using the slide and swing structures to do pull-ups and tricep dips.

"I come to the park often," Wood said. "I may not use the equipment for what it was intended, but when it rains I use it for a workout."

The lifelong resident of Manatee County said the park was a great place to visit and thought the city was doing a good job keeping up with the maintenance.

"It's a very nice place," he said, but the muscled young man said he would like to see a fitness trail.

But the rain did keep a crew from the city Department of Public Works from finishing the cleaning and resealing of the special rubber matting around the playground area, which was closed Monday and Tuesday.

"The playground will be reopened Wednesday," said Tim McCann, spokesman for Mayor Wayne Poston, "The parks department will reschedule the maintenance project for another time."

Since the Riverwalk opened Oct. 18, the 1.5-mile park along the Manatee River has become a very popular spot.

"Considering the number of people who use the park, all the maintenance and performance of the equipment and facilities have exceeded our expectations," said Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, the city agency that spearheaded the Riverwalk project.

Gustafson said when the DDA was planning the park

they made a point to use quality materials, knowing that the equipment and facilities would be exposed to extreme elements along the riverfront.

"We didn't want the citizens to think we were using low-quality material and see the stuff fall apart," he said.

Also, there is a one-year warranty on all the equipment, and the city purchased several maintenance contracts, Gustafson said.

Rachel Grossman, who lives close to the park, said she brings her son, Noah, 4, to the playground at least once a week and has no complaints with how Riverwalk is maintained.

"The playground has been good," Grossman said. "There's always someone there cleaning up.

"And all the parents love that surface," she said, referring to the soft, rubberized material under all the playground equipment to cushion a child's fall.

Grossman said when the park first opened she was concerned about whether it would be maintained or not, especially the skate park area.

"At first it was a mess and we were worried," she said, "but now with the strong police presence it has stayed pretty clean.

"Everyone I talked to has been pretty happy with the park," Grossman said.

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