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Cambier Park and the future: The price for a proper playground

City cites rotting wood as it gathers opinions for best path ahead for play
Cambier Parks' future causes controversy in the heart of Naples
Posted at 9:30 PM, Feb 06, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — The City of Naples takes pride in its pristine parks, including Cambier Park in the heart of downtown.

The nearly 30-year-old park will soon have a makeover, and the city says its goal is to make it safer and more inclusive.

The playground is wood components, so we have a lot of rotting," said Chad Merritt, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Naples. "We've got some issues that we have internally, structurally that we want to try to address. We have to look at the issues that are presented right now. What's presented is you've got a playground that's deteriorating from the years of use, and then you've got a playground that is not inclusive for children with disabilities."

Although they are in the early stages, Merritt says a playground of this size and quality can cost around $1 Million.

However, as kids use it and adults watch it, the city welcomes opinions on a better place to play.

"We really want the city to go back to Leathers and say 'Hey, we have some issues, it's time, it's old,'" said Ellin Goetz, former co-chair of the current playground. "The City has done this in the past and Leathers does this all the time."

Plus, on a playground, opinions go up and down like a swing set.

"I've been playing at Cambier Park since I was a little kid and it's my number one favorite park," said Raelyn Osborne, Cambier Park user. "My second favorite is the Corkscrew Regional Park, the newer one, and they're both by Leathers. They both give that imaginative, creative concept to it. Looking at this new concept it doesn't keep that unique feel."

Merritt says they want to keep the existing tree theme in this new design.

Cambier Parks' future causes controversy in the heart of Naples
Cambier Parks' future causes controversy in the heart of Naples

"What we've done is we've put together a project that we feel would fit the theme," said Merritt. "We understand that it's not going to look the same. No playgrounds as they've changed typically look the same."

Again, the City is in the first stages of this project so they do want opinions on what could work best.