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Donations sought to replace beloved SKIP Playground in Stow that was torn down

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 22:39:28-04

STOW, Ohio — When a Stow playground was suddenly torn down last year, there was some anger in the community. A 7-year-old girl wrote a letter in an effort to fight city hall and Stow leaders even got into a confrontation over the removal.

A year later, there is a new push to replace SKIP playground off Darrow Road behind city hall.

Councilman Mike Rasor said city council approved up to $75,000 in matching funds for donations to the project.

However, the total cost of a new playground could cost between $200,000 and $400,000. Razor is seeking community donations.

"We're going to be leaning on some public companies to chip in," Rasor said.

The councilman, who played on the playground as a kid, hopes the city will secure renderings from a designer and the necessary funding within a year, with a goal of building a new playground in 2020.

"This park was something that meant a lot to the community," he said. "A lot of people felt vested in that park."

SKIP was a wooden playground over 11-thousand-square feet and it included tunnels, platforms, bridges and slides. It was built by the community in 1991.

City administrators felt the playground was deteriorating and becoming a safety hazard. Still, the decision to tear it down caught council off-guard, according to Rasor.

"All of a sudden it was just gone and city council wasn't warned. The public wasn't warned, so we had a lot of people very upset about that," he said.

Seven-year-old Emma Kovach decided to write a letter to city officials after learning her favorite playground disappeared.

"For some reason, people thought it wasn't safe for kids, but I thought it was fine," she told News 5 last year.

There was also a bizarre caught-on-camera moment in which the mayor at the time, Sarah Kline, accused Councilman Bod Adaska of pushing her during an argument over the playground''s removal. The incident, which was investigated by the Summit County Sheriff's Office, occurred moments after a council meeting ended.

Adaska was charged with disorderly conduct, but the case was later dismissed.

Current Stow Mayor John Pribonic said the city is hard at work on its City Center Project, a development plan that will create a community gathering space at the site of the former SKIP park and adjacent property.

"This new project is an important undertaking for the city of Stow, and we want to make sure it's done thoughtfully and with the community's best interest in mind," Pribonic said.

According to a city statement, a steering committee has acquire approximately $275,000 in pledged private donations for the project.

However, Rasor said that money will go towards a proposed splash pad and possible amphitheater, not for a replacement playground.

"It's important to bring it (the playground) back because people want to recreate what we did 20 years ago with bringing the whole community together."