RICHLAND — A new generation of children could be sliding down Mr. Elephant at Richland's Howard Amon Park before summer's end.
Dave Bryant, the city's senior parks planner, said now that the restoration of the antique slide is complete, the city just needs permission from its insurance company to put the slide in the park.
The insurance company has to clear the slide because Total Energy Management, the company that donated time and materials to restore the metal slide, isn't a certified play equipment manufacturer.
The old slide sparked the imagination of Richland residents past and present when the city posted a picture of it on the city's Facebook page. The slide was a children's favorite in Howard Amon Park from the 1960s until 2003, and dozens of people commented on Facebook asking where Mr. Elephant had gone and whether he might return.
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When people heard Mr. Elephant was gathering dust at city shops, about a dozen businesses and people offered to restore the popular playground toy.
The city accepted Total Energy Management's offer, and the refurbished slide was turned back over to the city June 17. The slide is on display at the Community Center until it returns to the park.
Bryant said the next step after getting insurance approval will be to post an update on Facebook seeking donations toward the $10,000 cost to install the slide. Installation will include pouring a concrete pad and covering that with a two-inch rubberized surface to give kids a soft landing when they slide down Mr. Elephant's trunk.
Because it was an impromptu decision to restore and install the slide, the city didn't budget for the costs this year, Bryant said.
But if the money for installation can't be raised, the parks department has some money available for playground improvements that could go to put Mr. Elephant back into Howard Amon where he belongs, Bryant said.
"Those funds weren't really earmarked for this project, but it is such a high priority that we can use some funds," he said.
* Michelle Dupler: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org