Guess How Much the Crozet Playground Cost?

After last week’s conversation about Crozet Elementary’s piddly new playground, I asked for more information from the County of Albemarle about the associated cost and rationale. (Bolding mine) Who wants to volunteer for a committee?

My only comment for now – why weren’t any kids consulted?


Your concerns regarding the new Crozet Playground were brought to my attention by Barbara Massie Mouley, ACPS School Board Member. The previous Crozet Elementary School playground was established in 1991. By 2010 it had reached its useful life and was identified though an assessment process for replacement. The Building Services Department is very fortunate to be able to combine our Capital Improvement Program (CIP) funds with funds from the Albemarle County Parks and Recreation Department, which allowed us to replace three play sets this year; Agnor Hurt Elementary’s playground equipment was recently replaced at a cost of $120,000 and Scottville Elementary’s, with an additional 2 – 5 unit for their Bright Stars Program, will be completed next week at a cost of $127,000. Crozet Elementary’s playground set was replaced at a cost of $120,000.

The set of components for the Crozet playground was decided upon by a Committee established by the previous school principal. The Committee consisted of Karen Marcus, previous Principal, Bob Crickenberger from the Albemarle County Parks and Recreation Department, the consultant from the Playground Equipment vendor and one staff member from Crozet Elementary School. The final design was reviewed and agreed upon by the Committee and the new Principal, Gwedette Crummie.

All of the components of the new play set at Crozet Elementary are designed for the same age group, and can accommodate 77 children. The set consists of 22 components plus the web. The set is constructed to allow children to have a total body workout through the different play components that include three levels with active play components on each level. The previous set could accommodate only 30-40 children and consisted of only 11 play components.

The size of the play set for Crozet Elementary was determined by the school’s capacity which is 380 students. Brownsville’s school capacity is 716, so the Brownsville set was designed for 145 children in order to accommodate the school’s larger capacity. The cost of the Brownsville set was $121,000 and did not include demolition costs for an old play set.

There is room to expand the current Crozet Elementary play set at the rear of the main unit, and we would welcome an opportunity to work with a Committee, if external funding sources can be obtained, to expand the play area. The Parks and Recreation Department will be touching up the grading and reseeding the area, and the Building Services Department will be repaving some of the black top area. The play structure is a part of the playground and when used in conjunction with the other amenities at the school, such as the swings, the improved soccer field and the black top area, there should be room for all of the students to enjoy their recess period at Crozet Elementary School.

I hope this information is helpful and provides insight into the decision making process for the new play set. I will be happy to meet with you, or a Committee, to discuss the possibility of adding other play components to the existing play set at Crozet Elementary School. I appreciate your interest in our schools and encourage you to contact me on 434-975-9340, or via email at [email protected], if I can be of any further assistance.

Joseph P. Letteri, CFM
Director of Building Services
Albemarle County Public Schools
2751 Hydraulic Road
Charlottesville, VA 22901
PH: 434-975-9340
FX: 434-975-9341
[email protected]

One final note regarding the previous comment about recess being only 20 minutes …

Update 13 September 2010: Dannika Lewis at NBC 29 has a story today, inspired by these posts.

Update 14 September 2010: The HooK picks up the story as well: Cash-strapped County springs $360K for playgrounds

Part 1 – Crozet Elementary’s Piddly Playground
Part 3- – More on the Crozet Playground – This time with invoices!

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23 Replies to “Guess How Much the Crozet Playground Cost?”

  1. There has to be a rational explanation.

    Perhaps the county decided to use a defense contractor for local playground construction.

    Or, perhaps a trusted local contractor, Piddly Playgrounds Inc, stepped up and agreed do the job at discount, as a public service for Crozet’s children.

    Maybe a ‘Thomas Gradgrind’ of Crozet decided a piddly playground would best match a piddly 20-minute-per-day recess (I agree, Misty). In serving with Crozet’s industrious history, rules and profitable enterprise should be the focus of Crozet’s little people, rather than imaginative play.

    Whatever the cause, “Crozet Elementary’s Piddly Playground” is one of Mr. Duncan’s better headlines.

  2. If that piddly playground cost $120,000, the county has a lot of explaining to do. We recently built a playground at Crozet Baptist Church, seemingly larger than that one for I believe around $20,000. I was really surprised that playgrounds were that expensive, but we got 2 quotes. For $120,000, we could’ve gotten the brownsville playground.
    I hope there is some misinformation here, otherwise that is to me quite negligent, especially in light of our poor library, teacher lay offs, etc…

    1. We are currently compiling a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the playground installations and will provide to the community shortly. The County has a purchasing process that includes getting competitive bids.

      Also, this is money that is part of the Capital Improvements Program, money set aside from the tax rate for facilities repairs, upgrades, replacements and additions. This is not money that is available to the County or the schools for their yearly operating budgets (e.g. for salaries). Due to the economic situation, the CIP was drastically cut for 2010-11 to include only maintenance projects this year.

  3. Sadly, $120,000 probably doesn’t buy much when public projects are built – especially where its prone to kids getting hurt. Can’t really get hurt in a library, but a playground…. I’m sure it does cost more to utilize materials to build a safer playground, but probably not 6x the cost of your church’s playground. I sometime wonder if contractors see a cash cow when dealing with public projects…”wouldn’t want your little boy or girl getting hurt would you”?

    I would think the schools did get multiple quotes, but to reduce costs, parents would need to take responsibility off the schools, which will never happen. You never see schools with skating/board parks, god know what that would cost. Good thing for private parks….pay a fee, sign a waiver…play, repeat if necessary.

  4. Actually, our church used the same company that did the Brownsville playground, so the safety concerns and quality of the equipment are the same. I’m unable to imagine where the additional ~$90,000 went to…

  5. Hubbsba (apparently from Staunton) comments on the NBC 29 story:

    “Well if you complainers would consider the Crozet playground a fixed asset (although I guess it could be removed and sold) at $120,000 and assuming straight-line depreciation over a useful life of 20 years… that works out to $6000 a year. I consider this a fair price to pay for students and weekend users (I bring my 2yr old son on weekends when we visit my parents). Playgrounds encourage imagination, exercise, and social interaction. For those who can’t believe it cost $120,000; look online at manufactures. The quality materials, the bulk and quantity of the equipment, the shipping and handling, plus the site work and manual labor to install… of course it is going to cost $120,000 per playground. I am thankful that Albemarle Co and the Parks and Recreation department value the quality of life for our children and the children who visit the playground who may not be in the County’s school systems (Thank you Albemarle Co taxpayers). Please take your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers, and sisters etc. to visit these wonderful playgrounds. “

    1. I don’t even know where to begin with this comment.

      I did look at online commercial playground structures and thought my initial estimate of $50K would have included the structure, freight and labor for installation. I was bewildered to see $150K. And then dumbfounded that the Brownsville one cost the same.

      It would seem that the logic used to rationalize the size of the Crozet structure did not proportionally adjust the cost of the structure as well. Can someone answer that for me?

    2. Jim, I think you didn’t actually read the blog, before commenting. The issue is how does a committee, that includes the vendor, justify a $120k playground for a 75 child capacity at Crozet when they just spent only $121K for a 145 child capacity playground at Brownsville. Then, throw in the fact that the company that did the Brownsville playground also did the Baptist Church for $20K for the same size playground as the Crozet playground and something sounds fishy. I’m not a math major, nor a playground designer, but I am a tax payer and I’d have to ask where the value is in this action.

      I hope you enjoy the play ground, while your there, scratch the surface and see if it’s really gold underneath. (sorry couldn’t help myself) 😉

  6. I would encourage everyone who has NOT seen the Brownsville set to take a walk around back and look at what the County did for Brownsville. Then take a ride over to Crozet and see what $120K bought for each school.
    I do appreciate what the County has done for the Crozet kids, it’s just there’s such a HUGE difference between the two that our kids would rather play on the Brownsville set.
    I agree that the County should watch their $$$ as we all have to but the safety and the health of our kids come first.
    If they County would finish the fields behind the Crozet school, then the kids would have space to run but for now they only have the playgound.

  7. I think the Brownsville PTO kicked in money for a better playground – anyone from Brownsville care to comment ? I think an active PTO
    can do a lot for the school – look at their after school program and offered activities. It’s truly amazing and I feel like moving ! It may be bigger but in many ways it’s a nicer school with all the bells and whistles.

    Was there outside money raised to help Brownsville ? Was Crozet given that option?

  8. Just consider this: Is it possible that this playground cost was part of another, larger improvement that was done at the school? There has also
    been some grading done at the rear of the school along with pavement improvement. If this was the case and cost numbers were not accurately
    represented then all these complaints are for nothing. There has been
    considerable improvments done to this school recently. There should be somebody that actually appreciates this… What the County did for
    Brownsville?? What have you done for yourselves????

    1. Ed – paying tax dollars is doing something for ourselves – all we are requesting is to be part of the process. We would have volunteered money, time etc given the opportunity but as far as I know that never happened.

      We are part of the process – we pay taxes, attend the meetings and vote.

    2. Please tell me which of my complaints are for nothing?

      1. The playground is undersized for the needs of Crozet Elementary and the Crozet community.
      2. The playground was very expensive for what was received.

  9. by word of mouth, I heard the “bubble” (where the kids wait for parents to pick them up) cost $400, 000… not sure if it’s accurate or not, but it has me wondering. Personally, I would have much rather the money gone to the playground.

  10. well by my estimation the playground at riverside park in waynesboro must be abput a half million bucks and it comes with ducks and geese.where was this money when the county was renigging on it’s promise to build a new library? we use to play a game called “kick the can” when i was a kid. another game we played was “flashlight tag”. i think people should study their government and who is elected. the fox has been in the henhouse for years and soon there will be no hens left. people who promise to take care of big government and then milk the treasury for Goldman Sachs,AIG, Bank of America,etc. Where is our recycle center and our sidewalks? Yes, some folks were lucky enough to get utility poles stuck in their front yards. Is that the cost of development and progress? Are those previously mentioned cash cows the underpinnings of these developments? Is it all just a house of cards? who is to blame? Someone sitting in their house in Lexington,Mass. guiding drone planes over Afghanistan and Pakistan before coming down for supper? We let forty employees of the school system “go” and say it is for more frugal financial management.Why not let the corporations who got us in this mess “go”? Who sold the playground equipment? I believe if i was a young person looking for work i would be interested in that. Maybe someone should ask Whole Foods to donate for a new school garden with year round employees. All that glitters isn’t gold even Goldman,Sachs.

Something to say?