Marshfield High School STOCK

Marshfield High School.

COOS BAY — Key Club students from Marshfield High School presented ideas to improve Pirate Park with outdoor exercise equipment.at Tuesday’s Coos Bay City Council work session. 

This is the Key Club’s second phase of renovations for Pirate Park, which the group cleaned up and brought new equipment to over the past couple of years. After the Key Club finished its first phase of renovation efforts this past summer, the city was so impressed with the improvements made it renamed the 10th Street Park the new "Pirate Park" to thank the Marshfield students for their hard work.

In phase two, the students of the Key Club would like to bring outdoor fitness equipment to the area and establish a fitness zone around the equipment.

Two pieces of equipment were proposed, including a leg-lifting exercise machine and an upper arm exercise machine. Together the cost for the equipment comes in just over $9,000, a price which the Key Club would look to pay through donations and grants. Both pieces of equipment are ADA accessible.

Key Club students brought around a survey to local residents to see if they would support adding the fitness zone and saw widespread positive feedback.

Although very impressed with the young folks taking initiative to improve parts of their community, the council is hesitant to support the project because the city’s Parks Master Plan would have to be amended.

“The master plan doesn’t speak specifically to adult exercise equipment in a neighborhood park,” said Randy Dixon, Coos Bay's operations manager. “The purpose of a neighborhood park is a service radius of a mile to half a mile.”

The big problem is that the city’s master plan uses nationwide definitions to define what it considers a neighborhood park and what it considers a community park. Neighborhood parks like Pirate Park are designed to serve smaller groups than community parks, which according to national standards neighborhood parks do not include outdoor exercise equipment for grant funding purposes.  

“Right now it doesn’t fit within the current master plan," Dixon said. "It would take rewording every neighborhood park in the plan to include outdoor exercise equipment. When we recap and resize our master plan to include neighborhood parks for adult exercise equipment means you would be going outside of the standard."

Changing that standard would not keep the parks from getting new grants, but it would cause smaller parks to compete for grant funding with larger community parks that are more in line with national standards.

The uncertainty is that changing the city’s master plan could result in loss of certain grant funding for the city’s neighborhood parks. However, there is the potential that making that change could open the city up to a number of grants its neighborhood parks were not previously qualified for.

Councilors decided to table the issue and have city staff try and find out more information before a decision will be made. One suggestion by the council was that the Key Club potentially look into placing exercise equipment in a community park that meets standards.

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.