By Karen Billing
New playground equipment for Covenant kids is set to land at the Rancho Santa Fe ball fields this week. The arrival marks a near year-long process and is the first successful effort of many to get a community playground in place.
If all goes as planned, the equipment could be ready for miniature princesses and ninjas to be climbing and sliding by Halloween.
“I’m still just so giddy, I’m still sort of shocked,” said Heather Slosar, the local mother of five who led the playground effort, first approaching the Association in March 2011. “It feels great. There are a lot of people who really wanted this for our community for years. It just came down to the community and the Association really getting behind it. Everyone had a ‘We Can’ attitude.”
The wooden, natural-looking play structure will be located near the back of the dirt parking lot, tucked behind the baseball diamond backstop at the RSF ball fields, south of Richardson Field on Rambla de las Flores. It will take up about 35 by 35 feet and include three towers, a little playhouse, slides and components appropriate for ages 2 through 12. The ground will be padded with wooden bark.
A community build is planned for installing the structure, saving about $5,000. A general contractor will be on hand to observe the build by dads in the Rancho Santa Fe Outdoors Club, likely on a coming Saturday.
“It’s a great way to save some money and a great project for the dads in our community to do,” Slosar said.
The build is not yet scheduled, the Association needs to do some ground leveling and footing work, as well as construct a split rail fence around the site.
When Slosar first started the process of getting a playground, she had eyed the Arroyo, the 88 acres of open space the Association owns off Las Colinas. Slosar thought Arroyo was the best solution because it was the only one without zoning issues and “everybody said it couldn’t be done in other locations.”
In November 2011, the board approved the allocation of funds for the equipment but did not like the Arroyo as a site and charged the trails and recreation committee with finding a more suitable location.
The committee took a hard look at all the locations that had been deemed impossible in the past, such as Richardson Field and the RSF Field.
“Everyone was working hard to make it happen,” said Slosar, who was especially complimentary of RSF Association Manager Pete Smith, Director Larry Spitcaufsky and Director Rochelle Putnam. “I can’t say enough good things about the board, I didn’t think they’d be so behind it.”
The RSF ball field spot required the signature of an adjacent homeowner to amend a previous agreement and allow the playground use. Slosar said it took awhile for Association staff to work with the homeowner to make them feel comfortable with the proposal and that it would not increase traffic as it would draw mainly Covenant children.
“I’m really excited,” said Slosar, who has now turned her sights toward running for the Rancho Santa Fe School board. “It makes me feel really good to live in this community.”