Who will playground serve if the school is gone?

The head of a committee raising funds for a new playground next to Washington Elementary School said this week that whether or not the school remains at that location, plans for the playground construction will continue as planned.

There is some uncertainty as to whether a school will remain there at Fourth and Washington streets, as district officials plan to put a levy on the November ballot that would fund construction of a single Marietta City Schools campus on Washington State Community College property.

Apparently, the $1.2 million playground–still in the fundraising stage with a groundbreaking goal of May 2020–is still a go regardless of if the playground would be used by an elementary school.

The playground and its land is owned by the city, not the district, although it is used by the school for recess. However, we’re not sure that the community use is high enough to justify a $1.2 million rebuild if there is not a school there and guaranteed regular use.

Maybe there would still be a need. We’d just like to see some careful thought and consideration given to moving forward if and when a levy would pass and we know that Washington Elementary at that location will be no more. Perhaps there could be a study on playground use by the community outside of the school. Do the demographics of the neighborhood include many young children or skew more toward retirement age? Perhaps some of those donors who have provided money for the project should be polled to make sure the project is still desired at that location. As fundraising has gone on for several years, it’s been with the notion that the playground would be used by Washington students. There’s been a lot of support from Washington alumni and current employees and families.

If it’s found that there’s not a great need for the playground there without the school, it doesn’t mean the committee shouldn’t build a community playground at all. It just might mean they should consider other locations as well. If there will no longer be a school there, is that still the best location?

We don’t know the answers to all these questions, and the future of Washington is still very much up in the air. However, given the huge investment of the community on this project, we would like to see all these questions being asked and all options considered.