By Denise Ellen Rizzo, of the Tracy Press

MOUNTAIN HOUSE — The sounds of children’s laughter filled the neighborhood park at Wicklund Village on Wednesday when local officials dedicated two new playground areas.
The new playgrounds, one for children ages 2 to 5 and another for ages 5 to 12, replaced the deteriorating playground equipment at the 14-year-old park in Mountain House’s first village.
“Just imagine all the fun families are going to have with this, bringing their kids here, just like I did when I first got here with my kids,” said Brian Lucid, president of the Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors. “This is community here. This is what’s important to us — to have that family time.”

To pay for the equipment, the board budgeted just under $160,000 from capital improvement projects funds during their regular board meeting in late June.
General Manager Edwin Pattison said one of the positive aspects of the new equipment is that it is manufactured by a company called Playcraft Direct Inc. in Oregon. He said the previous playground equipment had been made in a foreign country, and that had caused delays in getting replacement parts.

“Kids are tough on toys,” Pattison said. “We’ve had to rope them (the equipment) off for extended periods of time to get parts to repair, and it’s just been expensive and difficult. Since this one was nearing the end of its lifecycle, we decide we wanted to buy U.S. made, so it’s made here in the U.S. and parts are going to be a lot quicker and the quality is better.”

After officials finished their dedication of the new equipment Wednesday evening, children could be seen running in and out of the two playgrounds, which have climbing structures, slides, bridges and towers.
“I like it,” said 3-year-old Arabella Salah after her mother spun her around in a spinning cup near the playground for older children.

Pattison said the board planned to gradually replace all the aging playground equipment throughout the community as funds become available. He said the board would use the new Wicklund Park playgrounds as a model.
“Other parks are needing it, but it’s going to take a little time to work through,” he said. “These playgrounds are not inexpensive. They definitely need to be planned and budgeted.”