At its October 16 public meeting, the Heights Libraries board of trustees gave the green light to Regency Construction to begin the first phase of the Coventry PEACE Park renovation project.
This first phase, which will cost $743,955, will begin with the demolition of the current PEACE Park playground, scheduled to begin Monday November, 13, and last roughly one week.
“It will be bittersweet,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “It is at the end of its life, and it holds such wonderful memories for the community. But we are looking forward to the new playground, and the new life it will breathe into not only the library’s programming and activities, but the neighborhood as a whole.”
Part of the demo will involve moving and storing the brick pavers that were installed at the top of the first playground, when it was built 30 years ago. The pavers feature the names of donors, and will be reused in the park’s new hardscape design.
“We want to honor the people who built the first playground,” said Levin. “Without their vision, the PEACE Park as we know it really would not exist.”
This first phase will also include the purchase and installation of the Cardinal play structure and performance pavilion, both of which need 6-8 month lead times for ordering and assembling.
After demolition, the playground area will be cleared of all debris and fenced off to await installation of the Cardinal play structure and pavilion in the spring. The sled riding hill will still be accessible over the winter.
Fundraising for the new playground continues, spearheaded by the Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries, who will hold a fundraiser at the Grog Shop on Sunday, November 5, 4 – 7 p.m., featuring local band Grandview. Admission is $25.
Coventry PEACE Park Renovation FAQ
Why are you renovating the park and replacing the current playground?
We love the Coventry PEACE Park, especially the playground. That’s why we agreed to take on the maintenance and stewardship of the beloved public space in 2018. But the playground that once attracted residents from all over Northeast Ohio has reached the end of its life, and needs to be replaced. And the Park isn’t always easy for everyone to navigate, with few paved trails and steep hills that are hard to climb.
The new park and playground will sustain Coventry PEACE Park’s role as a fun and welcoming space at the heart of the Heights community, with safety upgrades and full accessibility for all ages and abilities.
The new park design will also allow the Library to extend its services and programming by giving it an outdoor, public space to practice sustainability and nature education, with gardens, 100 new trees, a urban mini forest by the PEACE building, and play equipment made from natural materials like wood and stone.
The Library also wants to ensure that the new playground will be attractive to families both in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community and also surrounding communities, to help make the Coventry neighborhood an attractive destination for all.
What is the total cost of the entire project (park and playground)?
The total cost, updated to 2023 numbers, will be approximately $2.5 million, roughly double the original estimate of $1.2 million from 2021.
The increase in cost is in some part due to inflation, but is also due to the fact that the scope of the project has steadily expanded over the past two years, as the Library began regularly gathering community input, starting in 2018.
Additions such as a 65-foot zipline, an ADA-compliant walking path around the park, a half-court basketball court, and, crucially, playground equipment that more easily accommodates children of varying ages and abilities (such as basket swings) have all been added.
Regency Construction, recently selected to manage the construction, is splitting the project into phases.
Phase 1 will begin in November, and will include the demolition of the current playground and the purchase and installation of the Cardinal play structure and performance pavilion, both of which need 6-8 month lead times for ordering and assembling. This first phase will cost $743,955, which includes permits, staffing, structures, and demolitions.
How did the library arrive at the current renovation design plan?
Starting in the summer of 2018, soon after we took on management of the Park, we began asking residents what they think the future of the Park should be, through multiple public surveys and meetings. Over the years, we have used the community’s suggestions to create a vision of a new, improved public space that will provide opportunities for play, exploration, education, entertainment, and relaxation. Here is a timeline:
- Summer-Fall 2018: Public Survey receives over 700 responses that asked for more shade and seating, an outdoor stage, and gardens; and requested any new playground have a big slide, swings, and a zip line, all of which are in the new designs.
- June 27, 2021: Coventry PEACE Park Design Jam event invited residents to tell landscape architects Andrew Sargeant and Jim McKnight what they would like to see in the new park. The key takeaways were:
- Additional shade
- Natural/rustic aesthetic
- Continued programs/events
- Design should not compromise safety and visibility
- Accessibility and inclusion should be a priority
- July 24, 2021: A Public Open House at the Coventry branch allowed Sargeant and McKnight to present preliminary designs for the park to the public for feedback. The designs were also posted online for feedback. This is where the bird design received the majority of votes, beating out a pirate ship design
- August and September 2021: Public Online Survey of additional multiple design concepts asked residents to choose their favorites (330 people responded)
- September 20, 2021: Sargeant & McKnight presented the semi-final plans for the park at another public event.
- May 10, 2023: Cleveland Heights Public Planning Commission approves the designs
- August 10, 2023: A Public Feedback Meeting at Coventry branch to give the public a final chance to give feedback on the design.
How long will the renovation take?
We hope to have the park and playground renovations completed and open for all in the summer of 2024. Demolition of the current playground is scheduled for November 2023.
How can I support the project?
Lots of ways! You can make a direct donation to help pay for the construction of the playground. You can tell your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. You can talk up the park and the playground, and its importance to our community, especially to Coventry Village—we hope the park and playground will help boost visits to Coventry Village, where families and individuals can shop, eat, and have fun in the park as part of a day out. Information for giving can be found at https://heightslibrary.org/services/fund-for-the-future-of-heights-libraries.