Changes in the Open Space Keep Safety First

If you have been out getting your exercise by walking the pathways or visiting the tot lots in the Columbia Association’s (CA) open space in the village, you may have noticed a few changes. To ensure safety, CA’s Capital Improvements Projects team has been busy replacing bridges and making repairs at tot lots. River Hill is the newest of Columbia’s villages and it is a bit surprising that it has become necessary for bridges and play equipment to be replaced. However, CA has discovered that due to changes in the preservatives, the wood used in construction is not
holding up the way it used to. The typical life expectancy of a wooden bridge has historically been 20 years. However, CA has been finding that some have needed to be replaced within 8 years. Thankfully, CA regularly inspects the open space amenities for safety and is taking action to address the structural deficiencies.

To achieve a longer equipment lifetime and reduce repair and maintenance costs, CA is implementing change in materials and designs. CA has begun using fiber-reinforced polymer bridges, which can be installed in sections,
have non-slip walking surfaces, and do not deteriorate as quickly. You can see the new style of bridges in two locations in the village: RHBR-24 located just off Great Star Drive near Fall Moon Ride, and RHBR-36 located behind Laurel Leaves Lane and Trailing Moss Gate. These bridges are becoming CA’s standard throughout Columbia and have a life expectancy of 40 years.

Throughout the village, wooden swing structures are being replaced with metal frames. You can see recent installations at the tot lots near Velvet Path (RH-03) and Angel Rose Court (RH-10). Additionally, for safety reasons some tot lots have been closed temporarily and equipment has been removed until repairs or replacement can occur at others. In mid-November, CA removed the fort at tot lot RH-19 located behind the Fieldstone Condominiums. CA plans to replace this structure and will share plans reflecting design changes at a River Hill Board of Directors meeting. The meeting will provide residents with an opportunity to comment and could occur as early as spring 2021.

For safety reasons, the following equipment remains closed to the public:
RH-07 – Distant Melody Place – Play Fort
RH-17 – Sunlit Water Way – Play Fort
RH-24 – Distant Thunder Trail – Entire Tot Lot
Although to the naked eye these structures may appear sound, the equipment is closed for a reason. Residents are advised not to remove the caution tape or signage. Instead, we encourage you to explore other tot lots in the community and keep our children safe.

Do you have questions or concerns about a tot lot, bridge, or other element in River Hill’s open space? CA’s Open Space Management staff is very responsive and can be reached directly at 410-312-6330 or open.space@columbiaassociation.org.

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