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Update on Freedom, Lil’ BLAZEr parks

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Team BLAZE, thank you for your feedback and interest in making our base a better place to Connect! We received inquiries regarding the Freedom and Lil’ BLAZEr parks and wanted to share an update with how the installation is moving forward with these two areas.

To provide some history, the current Freedom Park playground was constructed in 1996. During the timeframe it was built, playgrounds were typically constructed with wood materials, similar to ours. Over the 22 years since construction, the wooden structure deteriorated in several areas and many features degraded over time, creating an ever-increasing maintenance cost burden and safety hazard. In response to this, base leadership initiated a project earlier this year to construct a new playground that provides modern equipment and boosts the quality of life for our younger dependents. The initial plan was to wait to demolish the current playground until after the new playground was funded, designed, and a contractor ready to start the work. This would keep the playground available as long as possible before the new one was built. However, base leaders made the tough decision to close the playground earlier than planned due to several safety concerns that recently surfaced. Although unfortunate, the decision to close the playground was made out an abundance of caution with safety and protection of our children in mind.

The good news is the new playground is now funded, and currently in design! Your Force Support, Contracting, and Civil Engineer Squadrons are working diligently with a contractor to develop a fantastic design for the new playground. The new playground will have a similar footprint and will offer new and exciting features with modern construction materials. Additionally, the playground will meet applicable compliance measures, to include the ADA Accessibility Guideline and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Handbook for Public Playground Safety. Furthermore, the selected contractor is a member of the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA), a member-driven organization whose mission is to provide safe environments for children's play. This all means that we are confident that the new playground will be built to very high quality, safety, and accessibility standards that the base can enjoy for years to come. We anticipate the entire project to complete during the spring of next year and we will provide updates as the project moves forward.

We revitalized the Lil’ BLAZEr park as well! We had a team of volunteers go to the park to clean-up debris and equipment. This will be a recurring activity to ensure the parks are enjoyable for our families. Dates for future cleanups will be announced early to allow for your planning and participation.

Until then, I thank you for your understanding and patience as we continue to provide world-class community support to Team BLAZE. This new park will be a huge win for Columbus AFB, and my family and I look forward to joining you at the new Freedom Park this coming spring!

Be Bold!

BLAZE 1

(Editor’s note: This was a response to a Commander’s Action Line submission. In an effort to stay Connected, the Commander’s Action Line is a direct link to the commander for comments and suggestions on how to make Columbus AFB better. The Commander’s Action Line can be reached at 434-1414 or go to www.columbus.af.mil and click on “Contact Us” at the top left of the page and select “Commander’s Action Line in the recipient drop down menu.)