Gilbert park

The metal swing set at Discovery Park will soon give way to an eye-popping structure with a huge replica of a mammoth’s head as the centerpiece. (Town of Gilbert)

Discovery Park near Pecos and Greenfield roads has the usual amenities such as basketball courts, fishing ponds and picnic ramadas but what’s unique about the 48-acre recreation area is how it got its name.

In 2005 near the park site, construction crew dug up the fossils of a Columbian mammoth — hence the name.

Now, Gilbert wants to tell that story through the park’s playground, Jennika Horta, interim recreation manager, told the Parks and Recreation Board April 19.

The town has that opportunity as it’s been replacing aged play structures at its major parks. Last fiscal year upgrades were done at the play areas of Village II, McQueen and Sunview parks and the tot lot at Freestone Recreation Center.

This year’s projects include four parks – McQueen, Circle G, Cosmo Dog and Discovery. Work at Cosmo and Discovery is not completed.

The metal swing set at Discovery Park’s playground will soon give way to a play structure with a replica of a mammoth’s head that kids can climb on, Horta said. The project is expected to be finished in early to mid-May, she added.

Exact replicas of the fossils are on display at Southeast Regional Library.

Parks and Recreational Director Robert Carmona said the department is working within the budget for each park and the new and improved playgrounds fit in the existing footprints.

Cosmo Dog Park near Ray Road and Loop 202 also has a story to tell.

Although the 17-acre park has ramadas and a basketball court, its design is centered around dogs with amenities such as two washing stations and a beach with a dock for canines to jump from into the water.

Other than that, it doesn’t tell how the park was named after the town’s first police dog, named Cosmo, Horta said.

The playground, designed as a dog print, currently has a plaque in Cosmo’s honor but when the make-over is completed in May, there will be an updated play structure and a replica of Cosmo made out of glass fiber reinforced polymer, according to Horta.

The park also will be the first in Gilbert to have a wood-play structure that includes a slide and a climbing wall.

The Town already finished the playgrounds at Circle G and McQueen. Both playgrounds at McQueen have new play structures and Circle G’s playground now has inclusive play equipment such a freedom swing seat, which allows children of all abilities to use it and a Brava Universal Swing, which mimic stimming behaviors so children on the autism spectrum can participate in an activity that is comfortable and calming for them.

Circle G incidentally was the town’s last playground to convert to wood fiber from sand, which prompted Chairman Bob Ferron to ask why.

Ferron explained that he has a special-needs child who enjoys playing with the sand and that wood chips were messy.

Carmona responded that safety standards don’t allow the use of sand in playgrounds. Sand is not as effective when it comes to impact absorption.

“It’s very hard to put in any new play structure with sand,” Carmona said. “From a construction, liability standpoint it’s not recommended for playgrounds.”

Wood fiber and pour-in-place surfacing are the two options for playgrounds, he added.

The department also has five shade projects in the work for this fiscal year, Horta said.

New shade structures will be added at Sonora Town playground, the tot lot at Gilbert Regional Park and the playgrounds at Cosmo Dog, Village II and Discover parks.

When completed, all 23 town playgrounds will have shade, she said.