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Safety In Focus At City Parks
Escalon Public Works employees were busy at Sanchez Park this past week, laying down the recycled tires that will serve as padding underneath the various play structures. Several parks around the community have had the tires added for extra safety. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Recycled tires have found new life in Escalon.

With 42,000 pounds of recycled tires recently put down as padding at Sanchez Park, the treated and colored bits of rubber will provide extra cushioning for youngsters at that park and several others around the community.

A half dozen parks have been outfitted with the new padding, with all the labor provided by Public Works crews and the materials purchased with grant money.

“We took out the wood chips and replaced them with the recycled tires,” said Public Works Department Maintenance Services Supervisor Juston Collins. “It was done with all city labor and we’ve tried to do it so they (parks) aren’t closed down to the public for very long.”

Parks outfitted with the new padding over the past several months have included Shadowwood, Latta Park, the ‘Dinosaur’ park on Libby Drive, Brentwood Park, a park on Swanson and Sanchez Park, the final one on the list.

Equipment was also gone over and checked for safety and stability, with minor modifications done where needed to improve the safety factor.

The recycled tires won’t burn, as they have been treated, and there were also color choices but city officials decided to go with basic brown to maintain the true feeling of a park, as opposed to having bright blue or yellow rubber bits under foot.

Collins said the project at Sanchez Park covered five eight-hour days with several employees involved, including Jake Cook, Raymond Azevedo, Ray Iberra, Sal Castillo and Collins, with Engineering Tech Dave Ruby also on hand.

“It was a grant from the Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery, also known as Cal Recycle,” explained Ruby. “The grant covered six parks and was for $118,000.”

More than 24,000 tires were kept out of landfills through the project, and Ruby said it equated to about 142 tons of recycled rubber bits for the parks. The tires were obtained through Yosemite Nursery in Ripon and, with the grant money, the parks have been made safer at virtually no cost to the city except for the “muscle to spread” the new padding around, said Collins.

Both Ruby and Collins said safety was a key factor in making the change, as the rubber provides major cushioning; helping break a fall should a youngster slip off any of the equipment.