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Fort McHenry renovation to start in fall

McHENRY – Renovations to the popular, volunteer-built Fort McHenry playground have been pushed back to the fall.

The McHenry City Council approved a $239,000 contract with low bidder William Tonyan & Sons Inc. of McHenry at its meeting Monday.

The city had first posted the renovation of the Whispering Oaks playground in February but received no bids. A second posting returned three bids, including one submitted after the 11 a.m. deadline.

Because of the delay in awarding the contract, the work will start in late August when kids are back in school instead of during the spring as previously planned, City Administrator Derik Morefield said.

“Kids and parents use it all the time, so we didn’t have it torn up over the summer,” he said.

The project will take about five weeks to complete.

This is the second time its start date has been pushed back. The plan had been to do the work last summer but the design firm wasn’t available to oversee the construction until late October, which was too late in the construction season.

The project was expected to cost about $220,000 and will be paid for using the parks developer donations fund, a collection of development fees charged to residential developers for park improvements.

Much of the wood deck, handrails and balusters will be replaced with a composite that resembles wood but will last longer and require less maintenance, according to Deputy City Administrator Bill Hobson.

The playground equipment also will be updated to meet current standards, he said. For example, some of the slides that have metal on them will be replaced with all plastic slides.

Fort McHenry was built by volunteers in May 1994. It is McHenry’s only wooden playground.

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