1. Why does Wickliffe need to replace the Castle Playground?
After 30 years of devoted love and use, Wickliffe’s Castle Playground in Upper Arlington, also known as “The Big Toy,” is reaching the end of its useful and safe lifespan and cannot be repaired in a way that would extend its life significantly.
2. Who is leading this effort to create a new learning and play space?
A partnership that includes parents, students, alumni, Upper Arlington Schools staff and teachers, and Wickliffe’s principal are working together to envision, plan, fundraise, and install the new outdoor learning and play space. Earlier this year, an interest form was distributed to all Wickliffe families to indicate interest in joining a core group of parents to help lead this project. These committee members, along with Upper Arlington Schools staff and teachers, are working together to make this project a reality. If you’d like to participate in a planning committee, please email Matt Courser, a parent volunteer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. How much will the new space cost?
While the exact costs of the project are still being estimated, we anticipate a fundraising need of at least $600,000 to achieve the collective vision for Wickliffe Woods. This need includes the cost of site prep, installation, more accessible surfacing, a new marquee structure, along with swings and spinners. This estimate is comparable to the City of Upper Arlington’s Thompson Park renewal in 2024 where a preliminary budget of $550,000 is set. In 2020, the playground replacement cost for Reed Rd was $272,000 and for Miller Park was $350,000.
4. How will the project be funded?
All funds needed to purchase and install new playground equipment will need to be fundraised by the Upper Arlington community and must be fundraised before construction can start. A fundraising committee made up of parents has been formed to investigate and solicit donations for the project from key community stakeholders, including corporate sponsors, families, local foundations, and by seeking grants. If you are interested in making a financial commitment to the project, or have a company that may be able to sponsor this initiative, please reach out to email@example.com.
5. How does the district support playground space?
In the past, the district has played a role in helping to fund playgrounds — most recently providing approximately $125,000 toward the new boulder playground area located on our site at Wickliffe. This is consistent with how the district has helped provide funding for playgrounds at all of the elementary schools during the construction projects. For this particular project, the district has committed to helping with the removal of the current structure, to prepare the site for the new install, and to assist with landscaping needs once the new equipment is installed. The district also provides funds to maintain the playground equipment year over year.
6. What will the new play and learning space look like?
Conceptual plans were developed by Michelle Mathis of Learning Landscapes in Spring 2023 after time spent at Wickliffe with students, staff, parents, and community members. The new space will be adaptable, accessible, safe, sustainable, inclusive, and made from low-maintenance materials to last decades. The space will serve as both a setting for instruction as well as a place where classroom learning can be applied and extended.
7. What is the timeline for this project?
The timeline is a work in progress and will be fully built out in the coming weeks, but a few major aspirational milestones are below.
- August 2023: Kickoff fundraising process
- Fall 2023: Installation of loose parts and fort area
- Winter 2023: Install swings
- Spring 2024: Install spinners
- Late Spring/Summer 2024: Construction and installation of new equipment
- Summer 2024: A farewell to the Castle playground and site prep for athletic field
- Fall 2024: Ribbon-cutting and official opening of Wickliffe Woods
8. How long will the new play space last?
The typical lifespan of playground equipment as reported by Learning Landscapes is 15-20 years, however, many playgrounds with proper maintenance and care can have their length of life significantly improved and increased.