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Library revises PEACE Park budget and timeline

by | Feb 23, 2024 | Library News

At its Monday, February 19, meeting, the Heights Libraries board of trustees approved an updated budget and timeline for the PEACE Park playground renovation.

The new budget is $3.2 million, up from an estimated $2.5 million. The new construction timeline has moved the park’s completion date to early December 2024, from the original estimate of summer 2024. (See the updated plan image, below.)

“Our board wants to ensure that the new PEACE Park fulfills our mission to provide safe, welcoming spaces with equal access to services for all of our residents,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “The PEACE Park is an extension of the Coventry Village branch, so we have added features and services that have increased the price tag, but that are necessary, such as wifi that extends to the entire park, more lighting, security cameras, and construction of a retaining wall by the building.”

As of February 2024, the Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries (FFHL), a separate 501( c )3 organization that raises money for Heights Libraries, has raised roughly $800,000 for the project. That amount includes $300,000 from the City of Cleveland Heights’ ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. The FFHL anticipates receiving another $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant money, bringing the total close to $900,000 raised for the park so far.

Roughly $400,000 of the budget addresses accessibility improvements to the park, such as leveling some of the park’s steep hills to accommodate walkways, seating, and storybook loop and play equipment that are compliant with the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968, which requires structures built by government agencies to be accessible.

The leveling and construction of ABA-compliant walkways required the removal of 18 trees at the top of the park, along the rim where the new walkway will be, which were taken down in February to avoid bat nesting and maternity season, which runs roughly May through August.

“If we had waited much longer, we would have run the risk of having to leave the trees up until August, which would have delayed the project even more,” said Levin. “The bats can nest in the trees on the east side of the PEACE building, which will remain undisturbed.”

The removal of the 18 trees will be counteracted by the planting of 100 trees in and around the park area, with planting scheduled to begin in the fall.

The park’s adjusted timeline is the result of additions like the retaining wall and additional lighting, and also due to mundane yet unavoidable issues like shipping delays for play equipment, and a longer-than-anticipated schedule for the construction of the Park’s centerpiece, the cardinal play structure, which now has an estimated installation date of October 2024.

The new timeline, subject to change, is as follows:

  • Late June 2024: Construction barriers go up, and leveling begins
  • July 7, 2024: Groundbreaking ceremony
  • August 2024: Construction of pavilion
  • September 2024: Installation of playground equipment
  • October 2024: Construction of half-court basketball, installation of cardinal structure
  • October-November 2024: Landscaping
  • December 2024: Construction finishes, park opens

Heights Libraries will hold an official groundbreaking on Sunday, July 7, at 2 p.m., and hopes to open the park in early December with a winter-themed party.