Rayner Park Proposed Improvements
Updated:  March 2021

From 1993 – 2016, Rayner Park was owned by the Ingham County Parks and Recreation Department. In 2010, the City entered into an option agreement with the County when they could no longer maintain the park and the community wanted to keep it open.  In 2016, park ownership transferred to the City of Mason who has continued maintenance for the last four years.  In July of 2019, City staff requested that the Rayner Park play structure be evaluated by an Inspector from its manufacturer, Playgrounds by Leathers.

The playground is now 27 years old, seven years beyond its original life expectancy of 20 years (with proper maintenance). The inspector noted that the structure was in very good shape for its age. We appreciate the efforts of our Mason community groups, Ingham County, and City of Mason elected officials and staff who have worked very hard over the years to preserve this treasured community asset. As a result, there is a strong emotional connection between the community and the playground.

However, we are at an important decision point regarding the future of our beloved playground. After 27 years, concerns over the need for additional maintenance, and the safety of the older materials have prompted the question – Is it time for a replacement?

The original materials used in the playground structure are pressure treated wood posts and framing.  The original wood was treated with Chromated copper arsenate (CCA). CCA is a common wood preservative found in this style of playground. Studies show that CCA-treated wood is continually leaching (releasing) arsenic to the surface of the wood. There is increasing concern over potential exposure to arsenic by children playing in these playgrounds. In addition, there are splinters, checking and wood that is rotting and/or splitting open; gaps and structural issues with some of the slides. The City of East Lansing totally replaced their wood playground, also by Leathers, in 2015 at Patriarch Park for similar reasons.

The assessment offers two options to address maintenance and safety compliance:

  • $120,000 plus community labor* – repairs to extend life five years, possibly more. Some of the wood will be replaced, some will remain. This option may not fully mitigate the concern over CCA.
  • $325,000 plus community labor* – new structure with modern materials, 30-year life expectancy, and minimal maintenance needs (does not include cost for demo/removal).

*Includes manufacturer’s (L&A) fees (design, project management and construction consultation) and all materials; Assumes work will be done as a community build with volunteer labor; For liability reasons, any changes made to the playground must be approved by or completed under the direction of L&A staff. Removal or demo of the existing playground is not included in any of these estimates. Factoring these costs in as well as additional details such as play surface/mulch, fencing and signage, the current estimate for replacement $485,000. The final decision for improvements will be made with additional community input once grant funding has been determined. We strongly encourage community members to review the assessment here:

The community initially provided input regarding their vision for the future of our parks during the 2019 update to the five-year Parks, Recreation, and Non-Motorized Plan 2020-2024. Our goal is to bring all parks and recreation facilities up to a ‘State of Good Repair’ (SGR) within ten years, which includes improvements to facilities that address maintenance, repairs and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. SGR indicates that routine maintenance is sufficient and is reflected by a score of 3/5 or better. As facilities age, repairs begin to increase. When they exceed the cost of replacement, the score drops. The assessment of Rayner Park includes all facilities – bathrooms, pavilion, play structure, parking, etc.

  • Overall park condition 2 out of 5: 20%-40% life remaining (Goal 3 or higher)
  • ADA score 2 out of 5: Some of the facilities/park areas meet accessibility guidelines.(Goal 4 or higher)

 After several community open houses, meetings with stakeholder groups, and online surveys, the Plan was adopted by City Council and approved by the Michigan DNR on February 28, 2020. The community indicated strong support for investing in improvements to our parks and recreation facilities.

An additional online community survey in March related to the Rayner Park Playground Improvements suggests strong support for the replacement of the current play structure.

To assist with the necessary future improvements to the Rayner Park playground, the City has applied for Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2021 Trust Fund grant to assist with proposed Rayner Park playground improvements. If awarded, the grant funding will be used to work with the community to finalize a decision regarding the improvements.

To complete the requirements for the grant submittal, City Council must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution stating they support the application to Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2021 Trust Fund grant to assist with proposed Rayner Park playground improvements. 

The Mason City Council will hold a remote public hearing at a special meeting on Monday, March 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm. The electronic meeting will be held using Zoom and the participation link with details will be publicly accessible at www.mason.mi.us as soon as they become available. The purpose of the hearing is to take public testimony on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 2020 Trust Fund grant to assist with proposed Rayner Park playground improvements.

Staff can be reached at (517) 676-9155 for questions and will receive comments at City Hall, 201 W. Ash Street, Mason, MI 48854. Written comments may also be submitted by email to info@mason.mi.us, please include Rayner Park DNR Grant Application in the subject line, or submit them during the public hearing.

The City of Mason is submitting an application to three separate grants. If awarded, we will likely receive only one of the grants. We anticipate additional community support for labor and funding based upon those surveyed as noted above. The amount requested is based on the estimate of $485,000 for playground replacement.

 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Application 2021          $242,500 (maximum 50% of total project cost)
 Letters of support and attachments for all grants.   

Previously submitted grants: