Montclair Community Pre-K
The playground at the Montclair Community Pre-K. PHOTO BY ADAM ANIK

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair Community Pre-K could have a new outdoor play space by next fall.

The pre-school community has decided that its existing playground is in need of a makeover and hopes to have a new playground designed and built over the next year.

The existing playground is just over 20 years old, installed when the the pre-school opened in 1997. The playground is still in good condition and is inspected regularly. However, the playground shows significant wear and tear, said Corina Slackman, the school’s communications director.

MCPK plans to contract with Learning Landscapes, an Oregon-based company that specializes in natural playgrounds: playgrounds that include trees, rocks and other natural objects in addition to standard playground equipment.

Slackman would not give a budget for the new playground, but said the project will be donation based.

Learning Landscapes installed a “forest climber” at elementary school in the Portland, Oregon area at the cost of $50,000. Another Oregon playground cost approximately $45,000 for its first phase.

Learning Landscapes is expected to present a preliminary design to MCPK later this fall. If approved, construction on the playground will start in the spring or summer of 2019, and officially open in the fall of that year, Slackman said.

In September, MCPK held a workshop where parents, students and teachers could put together their own designs for an “ideal” playground.

Slackman said the MCPK did not want to release any rough estimates on how much the project could cost until Learning Landscapes presents the school community with a design. MCPK will set up a donation page where parents and community members can contribute to the project, and the BOE is expected to provide some support as well, Slackman said.

“We want to take this opportunity to create an innovative, unique and inclusive play space for all of Montclair’s preschool age children. Our goal is to build upon the beautiful existing landscape of trees and gardens using ideas we have gathered from our students, staff, families and community,” said Amy Dorr, the school’s executive director. “The new play space will be both accessible and challenging to 3-to-5-year-old children at every level of physical and social development. It will be an environment that fosters imagination, creativity, cooperation, problem solving and socialization through open-ended, multi-leveled play.”