Chehaw Park looks to make improvements to its playground, zoo

The equipment on the playground is around 20 years old.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:16 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Chehaw Park in Albany is responding to concerns about safety at their playground.

Parents tell WALB some equipment is broken and there isn’t enough padding for young children.

Some of the playground equipment at Chehaw Park’s playground visually is broken and there are places where mulch is almost completely gone.

“We’re replacing components or taking components out of service until we can get this new play park in. If it’s something that hasn’t been removed, it might be under maintenance list,” said Tommy Gregors, the executive director of the Artesian Alliance.

The park’s playground is more than 20 years old. With their new master plan, Chehaw plans to build a new park. Gregors said the concept has been approved, but the park could take more than one year to be designed and funded. It could take longer for it to be built because of unreliable contractors.

A broken ladder at Chehaw Park's playground.
A broken ladder at Chehaw Park's playground.(WALB)

Gregors said parkgoers are invited to say something about potentially unsafe areas. He also said to come to the park if interested in setting up recreational activities. Their RC Park and Disc Golf is completely run by community volunteers.

“We really would like folks to give us their comments firsthand. We depend on repeat visitation. We need our residents to come back multiple times. We want people to have the best experience they can,” Gregors said.

Parkgoers also told WALB there aren’t as many animals at the zoo and you can’t pet animals anymore because of COVID.

Gregors said the petting changes are not because of COVID, they were made in the years leading up because of changing industry standards. Animal interactions, like feeding and petting, have changed for the safety of the animals.

“We have to keep 3 feet back back away from the enclosure. It’s against the USDA guidelines having access to animals without trained staff or volunteers in there. So we’ve had to bring it back to here so they can still observe all the goats,” Gregors said.

He said the lack of animals could be because they are hiding, or it could be situations out of their control, like bird flu and paperwork.

To get animals to the zoo quicker, they are working on an accreditation status only 10% of animal facilities have.

“It makes it easier to transfer animals because another facility can transfer animals to us. We can’t just go out. We have to go through respectable channels,” Gregors said.

Chehaw Zoo has programs during the weekend when most people visit where you can interact with animals.

Staffing remains an issue for them. They are working to hire for the summer.

Gregors said programs for students and internships will solve the hiring deficit long term. The park still has camps going on all summer.