April 12, 2024

RUTLAND, Ohio — A renovation project is underway at Jim Vennari Park as the Village of Rutland Parks and Recreation Commission continues to improve the Village’s recreation facilities.

Mayor Tyler Eblin and Director of Parks and Recreation Denise Lambert announce new safety surfacing underneath playground equipment has been added as part of the Jim Vennari Park’s renovation plan.

On Monday, Village personnel completed the construction of new safety surfacing underneath the Park’s swing set. The new surfacing, which will be added to three other playground equipment areas, includes a border, landscape barrier with drainage holes and pea gravel.

“The improvements at the Vennari Park come following years of deferred maintenance, with safety concerns mounting, and rightfully so,” comments Mayor Eblin. “Restoring safety surfacing to our playground equipment is a critical investment priority for the well-being of our children.”

The Village previously applied for a community development block grant to install interlocking rubber safety surfacing mats as well as replace some equipment and install a new equipment variety. While initially selected for funding, the Ohio Department of Development instead opted to allocate the funding to the Rutland Civic Center, citing concerns with the Park’s location within a floodplain and partially within a floodway.

Some public concern has arisen as to the vitality of pea gravel in the event of flooding. Mayor Eblin notes that the pea gravel should last for approximately seven to ten years, credited to the design, despite the Park’s location in a floodplain.

“The Park’s original construction in 2007 featured pea gravel as the safety surfacing underneath equipment,” comments Mayor Eblin. “In 2016, this surfacing was replaced by mulch, which quickly dissipated.” 

Mayor Eblin explains that the Village’s selection of pea gravel is attributed to both budgetary and regulatory constraints as well as the urgency to address serious safety concerns.

In addition to providing new safety surfacing, the Village aims to implement cosmetic improvements to the equipment through the application of new paint and the replacement of defective, irreparable equipment. Defective bolts have already been replaced.

Other improvements tentatively planned include the installation of a new grill at the shelter house along with the expansion of the parking area.

Contributing to the success of the project, and to which the Village of Rutland extends sincere appreciation, include Director of Parks and Recreation Denise Lambert; Street Commissioner James Biggs; Council President Stephen Tomek II; Councilman Corey Arnold; Councilman and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Logan Fink; volunteers Donny Tillis, Brock Saber and Parker Saber; Groundskeepers Kevin Hudson, Robert Reel and Bobby Reel; and Mayor Tyler Eblin.