NMSU adds fun to family housing area

Mark Cramer

NMSU

Thanks to helping hands from El Paso Electric, Southwest Contract, Steinberg Architects and Sundt Construction, about

Architectural rendering of what the new playground, located between Standley and Poe drives by Wells Street on the NMSU campus, will look like. (Image courtesy Landscape Structures)

1,200 kids living in New Mexico State University campus family housing will soon have a new playground to celebrate.

The new, state-of-the-art facility should be ready by Aug. 26, but will officially open Aug. 29, with a 4 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony led by NMSU President Barbara Couture. The playground will be centrally located within the campus’ family housing neighborhood, between Standley and Poe drives, near Wells Street.

“The playground is going to be a much-needed recreational resource for the children on campus, and a great place for community interaction,” said Julie Weber, director of Housing and Residential Life at NMSU. “We do have a relationship with Myrna Children’s Village on campus, and in the past the kids could go to Preciado Park, but we haven’t really had an alternative on campus for five-to-12-year-olds to play. This is a spot in their own neighborhood, with no major streets to cross, so it’s also a safe alternative.”

While the kids may disagree, the best part of the project may be the cost, which, thanks to the generosity of some corporate partners, is next to nothing.

The idea for the playground gained traction when NMSU needed to replace appliances – stoves, refrigerators, air conditioning units – in the family housing. El Paso Electric offered rebates with purchases of energy-efficient appliances, and since all appliances purchased by the university for the upgrade project were energy efficient, the collective rebate amounted to $96,000. Weber earmarked that money for the playground.

“That $96,000 went a long way,” Weber said. “We used it to purchase the equipment and picnic tables, and since the playground is situated at a public school bus stop, we purchased benches as well.”

That was just the beginning, however, as total costs of equipment, building material, design and installation would have run about $250,000.

Enter Sundt and Steinberg. The companies both were already on the NMSU campus, as they are the contractor and architects, respectively, for the Chamisa Village II student apartments, scheduled for completion in 2012. In an act of goodwill, the pair offered to build the playground for free, as part of the Community Build initiative spearheaded by Landscape Structures, a leading innovator and manufacturer of play equipment, site furnishings and PlayTurf protective surfacing. NMSU purchased the Landscape equipment from Exerplay, Inc., of Cedar Crest, N.M.

The playground will have a very distinct feel as well. Southwest Contract, which provides the university with residence hall and lounge furniture, donated another $5,000 towards the purchase of customized TuffRiders – the ubiquitous spring-mounted riding seats that are popular playground attractions – with a Pistol Pete likeness.

Representatives from El Paso Electric, Southwest Contract, Steinberg and Sundt have been invited to the groundbreaking, and the public is encouraged to attend as well.

About 561 families reside in housing on the NMSU campus.

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