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Why is one of St. Augustine's most popular playgrounds still partially closed?

Half of Project S.W.I.N.G. has been closed for nearly a year.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Augustine might have a fort, a lighthouse, and a cool bridge, but for any kid, the Project S.W.I.N.G playground is what really rocks.

Rowan Westcott, 4, said when he first saw the playground Tuesday, "My mind exploded. I’m so excited!"

Like many families with kids, when the Westcott family from central Florida walked out of the parking garage, they saw a big playground across the street. 

"This is the first thing they (my sons) wanted to do as soon as they saw it," Jade Westcott said. 

However, half of the playground is still off limits.

"It looks a little sad and abandoned," Westcott said about the fenced off play area. 

The City of St. Augustine closed-off that part of the playground 11 months ago because of safety concerns.

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At that time, City Manager John Regan told First Coast News, "The playground was designed in a different timeframe with ADA standards. So walkways are too narrow compared to current standards. There’s wood that’s very old and needs to be replaced."

Almost a year later, First Coast News asked the city: what’s happening with the playground? A city spokesperson told us that bids are still coming in from contractors to repair and restore the playground. The expectation is the playground will be refurbished by November of this year.

That’s an important date. That’s the 25th anniversary of the Project S.W.I.N.G Playground. (The name is an acronym for "St. Augustine's Wish for Its Next Generation.") It was literally built – board by board – by St. Augustine residents in 1997. While there was talk last year of community members helping a  restore it, the city says a contractor will do all the structural work and residents will help restore the artwork in the park which includes murals and mosaics with marbles and seashells.

Many of the kids who first played on this playground now have kids of their own. Jade Westcott remembers visiting St. Augustine and playing on this as a little girl, and now her kids are getting that first glorious experience too.

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