Amanda Lyle dropped the bags from her shoulder and chased after her active toddler.
As her 2-year-old son, Connor, rushed onto a wooden play feature in Springettsbury Township Park, she reached out her hands to serve as a safety net in case he became unsteady on his feet.
The 34-year-old township resident visits several times a week when weather permits, and said the playground could use a facelift.
"They do a pretty good job keeping it clean and everything, but it's a little outdated and not always parent-child friendly," Lyle said.
For example, some play features make it difficult for her to be close to her child.
"I can't crawl in all the spaces he can, and it's not always easy to help him play on some of the toys," she said.
Upgrade planned: Springettsbury Township officials are planning a $500,000 upgrade to the aging community park, and one of the goals is to make it more accessible to young children and those with disabilities.
A site plan for the new Centennial Playground includes several new and revamped features: a haunted castle and maze, bridges, space shuttle toys, a bumpy dragon slide, handicapped-accessible play features, amphitheater, fire hose with pole, fire truck with ladder, spider web, pirate ship, a tree fort with tunnel slide, police car bouncer, tire tunnel, trolley ride, sandbox with slide, flower tower and swings.
The board of supervisors voted last week to apply for a state grant that will help cover costs of an overhaul at Springettsbury Township Park, off Mount Zion Road.
In its application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the township said the community hub has become a safety hazard.
"The park is 23 years old. There are numerous safety issues. Many play features have been removed because the parts went bad and can't be replaced," said John Holman, township manager.
A report presented at last week's meeting revealed many concerns about the current playground.
"Many hazards still exist that can cause a range of injuries to users from a very minimal condition to temporary disability. Protruding screws and nails and splintered wood present the highest threats of injury to users," the report said.
And the playground also does not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
Jamie Dysinger still takes her 3-year-old daughter, Gracie, to Springettsbury Township Park, but not as much as she used to.
"We've noticed she's been scratched by things, and some of the toys are too high or tall for her," the 38-year-old township resident said.
It's welcome news the township has plans for the park, she said.
"This is a really nice park, but it needs some work," Dysinger said.
Declining attendance: The park behind the police station is the primary recreation destination in the municipality, but has seen fewer visitors given its declining condition, the township said in its grant application.
As when it was first constructed in 1991, plans call for a community-build project that will enlist the help of local volunteers and follow designs by Leathers and Associates, a team of playground architects based in Ithaca, N.Y.
The work of Leathers and Associates has been featured on "Sesame Street" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and in Springettsbury Township would include a creative-play area geared toward preschool and school-aged children.
The current playground lacks an area for children ages 3 to 5 and 5 to 12, according to a township report.
A new park will also save the township between $5,000 and $10,000 in annual maintenance costs, according to the report.
Support: It will also benefit YMCA day camps and Lighthouse Mission youth groups using the park.
Those organizations wrote letters of support that are included with the township's grant proposal.
"The youth that visit the park spend entire days using the facilities, eating lunch and enjoying the outdoors. In many instances this is the only opportunity these children have to play outdoors due to their home environments," the township said in its grant application.
—Reach Candy Woodall at email@example.com.