Fayette County

It took 800 volunteers five days to build Lexington’s newest playground. It’s open.

Shillito Park playground ribbon cutting on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.
Shillito Park playground ribbon cutting on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. LFUCG

More than 800 people volunteered more than 3,600 hours over five days to build a new playground at Shillito Park on Reynolds Road in late September.

On Monday, the city officially opened the new, handicap-accessible playground, which replaces a popular wooden playground that was also built using volunteers in 1993.

“Lexington is the kind of place where hundreds of people will show up to build a playground. I love that about our city,” said Mayor Linda Gorton in a statement. “People who grew up playing on that playground got to bring their own kids to help build the next chapter.”

By using volunteer labor, the city estimates it saved $125,000, which allowed it to add more equipment to the playground. The new playground is 21,950 square feet. The previous playground structure was 14,700 square feet. The playground cost more than $500,000 to construct.

The older, wood structure was extremely popular and some protested when the city first proposed tearing them down. But the wooden playground was in disrepair and was not handicap accessible, city officials have previously said.

The United Way of the Bluegrass helped recruit and manage volunteers. Other local businesses also stepped up, including Lexington restaurants, which donated food for every shift of volunteers. Volunteers used tools donated by Lowe’s.

Fifth Third Bank, Kroger and U.S. Bank supplied water. Shade structures were added thanks to labor and materials from Kentucky Utilities and the Kelly Group, city officials said.

Shillito Park playground ribbon cutting on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. Amy Wallot LFUCG

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.