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March 30, 2014

Community volunteers give Kidspace a facelift

NORMAN — Fifteen years ago nearly 3,000 Norman residents and Moore Norman Technology students came together to build a kid-friendly playground in Reaves Park. Now, volunteers from the community and the tech school have returned to refurbish Kidspace.

Dust flying, Sara Kaplan worked with a sander on Saturday to remove the old finish so she and others could come back today and apply sealer to finish out the project. Kaplan said more volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. until 5 p,m. today. First American Bank will grill lunch on site for all volunteers.

In addition to sealing the wood today, volunteers are needed to spread the fresh mulch around the equipment.

Kaplan remembers her parents being involved all those years ago and she wants to preserve Kidspace and Reaves Park for her 2-and-a-half year old daughter, Stella, who can’t wait to get on the swings again.

Kidspace should reopen on Monday, and Stella will have to wait, like it or not. But the adult volunteers and parks staff say the wait will be worth it.

“It’s come along a lot faster than I thought it would,” said Parks Superintendent Bill Ulch. “A lot of people put in a lot of hours and helped.”

Ulch said the city has maintained the playground over the years, but for a long time there was no money in the budget to do a major refurbish. This year, the money became available and park staff started working on a plan.

“The word got out that we were starting this, and that’s how everybody got involved,” Ulch said of the volunteer effort.

He remembers when the original plan developed.

“It was all community meetings,” he said.

The idea for Kidspace came from residents.

“My wife and I saw a park like this in Coppell, Texas,” said Mike Tower, a former city councilman. “My brother told me the community had built it, and we brought the idea back.”

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