Conway ‘swings’ into the future with new, flood-resistant playgrounds

Published: Nov. 13, 2021 at 10:17 AM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - From swing sets, to slides and teeter-totters, the City of Conway wants to make sure all of its playgrounds can withstand the next big flood.

The city received special recognition from the South Carolina Municipal Association for building new, flood-resistant playgrounds.

“We were very sad when it was underwater and under construction even after that for so long,” said Amanda Range, who brings her son and daughter to Riverfront Park frequently. “I think it was closed for over a year, but my son and my daughter love it.”

The Range family used to enjoy going to the old Kiwanis Playground at Riverfront Park, but that abruptly ended when the flooding from Hurricane Florence in 2018 destroyed the equipment.

The City of Conway realizes flooding can’t really be avoided - it’s part of the landscape of the area. However, they figured what they can avoid is that flooding destroying the playgrounds.

The secret? It lies in the plastic.

“What we had before was that hollow plastic playground equipment, that would fill up with water and you just can’t clean some of that, so we specifically asked for equipment that could withstand flooding or could be removed in advance of flooding,” said Conway City Administrator Adam Emrick.

The new equipment was put to the test in January when heavy rain flooded Riverfront Park.

“We were able to remove the equipment that needed to come out, put it back together within days of the flood receding,” said Emrick.

The new playground approach hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. The South Carolina Municipal Association recently gave the city an achievement award for making the parks resilient and accessible.

All three of the newest playgrounds are also ADA fully-inclusive.

“My daughter is total care and in a wheelchair and she enjoys being out with the kids,” said Range. “We can go up the ramp over here and be in the ship with everybody.”

Emrick says the city won’t be making any generic playgrounds anytime soon. On top of being flood-resistant, they want each one to be uniquely Conway.

“Much like the riverboat here, the next playground we do will have some theme that is Conway,” said Emrick. “Sherwood Park has a train, we have a train. I don’t know it will be, but whatever it is, it’ll be something that says it’s Conway.”

The next developments for Conway’s parks will be re-opening the swimming pool at Smith Jones Park, which had a catastrophic failure two years ago.

The city hopes to have that done by next season with a brand new splash pad as well.

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