New Playground Opens in Santee

The playground can be found at Town Center Community Park in Santee, at 550 Park Dr.

It's been a long wait for some children in Santee. This is the first weekend they can finally try out the equipment at a new playground in Town Center Community Park.

Cohen Mills, 5, was one of the first to climb up the rope wall. The activity certainly didn’t disappoint.

"We've been waiting for months for it to open," said Cohen's mom, Melissa Mills. "They had a fence around it, and we were really excited when we saw it was open today."

The playground was actually built in May.

But the city couldn't let anyone use it until softball season ended this week, because it falls right alongside the foul ball line. The city was able to put in the playground after receiving a grant from the non-profit, KaBOOM!, and its funding partner, Foresters Financial.

"We had one day of prep where we sorted all the playground pieces," said Sue Richardson, Recreation Services Manager for the City of Santee. "But the entire playground, this section and the adjacent section, was all built in one day by community volunteers."

More than 100 people turned out to help prep and build the playground. Volunteers also helped with renovations, such as repainting existing fixtures and renovating curbs.

The city also added a couple of new features: a free lending library and butterfly garden, on the other side of the softball field.

"We've actually gotten a lot more people wanting to do more community-type volunteer projects as a result of that," said Richardson.

Part of KaBOOM!'s process is involving the community in every step of the build.

During the initial design day in March, KaBOOM! solicited opinions from the community. Children had a big say in what they wanted.

“I like the climbing things,” Cohen told NBC 7, referring to the rope climbing wall.

Melissa said climbing makes her son feel like a superhero.

The playground is divided into two areas, and separated by a gazebo with picnic tables underneath. One playground, known as the Tot Lot, is for children ages two to five. It's equipped with a wall of alphabets, a slide and a digger. The other area has a larger slide, a rope climbing wall, and is designed for children five to 12 years old.

"It's great to get outside, instead of being inside playing video games," said Melissa. "Good to be outside. We go to parks often."

The City of Santee is also solving the problem of the new playground falling within the softball field's foul ball line. Over the next few weeks, the city will install a 24-foot safety net along the 3rd base line.

This improvement will be ready in time for the start of the softball season in September.

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