MARINETTE — The Marinette Parks & Recreation Committee is exploring surfacing options for city playgrounds, and the group spent much of its Tuesday meeting discussing the possible merits of replacing its usual wood chip surfaces with something more durable in the long run. 

The committee previously discussed the possibility of using rubber chips instead of wood chips, but another option was presented on Tuesday. Executive Recreation Director Gavin Scray explained that when he looked into the cost and effectiveness comparison of using rubber chips on city playgrounds instead of the usual wood chips, he discovered that “the results were a little interesting.” 

“What it comes down to is that some of the communities had gone the rubber mulch route, and what they were finding is that it requires almost the same amount of maintenance as the wood chips do,” he said. “They’re not necessarily decomposing, but they’re still leaving the playground.” 

Of the 15 municipalities represented at a recent meeting of recreation departments in the local area, Scray said two of them were looking to remove their rubber mulch because it was not working well as a wood chip alternative. 

The City of Marinette previously sought to budget extra money for replacing wood chips in one of its playgrounds with rubber chips as a test run, but Scray instead suggested the city explore a “poured-in-place” solution, which is similar to a rubberized running track surface. According to him, other area municipalities are opting for this more permanent surface, which may cost more in the short term but will last between 15 and 20 years with little to no maintenance. 

“Wood chips are about $2 to $3 per square foot, the rubber chips that we had budgeted for 2019 is about $8 to $9 per square foot, and the poured-in-place option is between $17 to $19 per square foot,” Scray said. “We just wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention, and we realize there’s only so many dollars in the budget and so many dollars that we budgeted for. We just felt it was worthy of a conversation.” 

Ward 4 Alderman Brian Walters said he was interested in seeing the poured-in-place option in city playgrounds, and pointed out that the low maintenance and longer lifespan of the product would “be half the cost” of replacing wood or rubber chips over time.

Alderperson-at-large and committee chairperson Dorothy Kowalski asked if Scray had firmer numbers for how much it would cost to resurface each of the city’s playgrounds. Scray said he did not, but could look into it, and added that more professional measurements of the playgrounds would have to be taken. 

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Ward 6 Alderman Peter Noppenberg. “Especially since you’ve had some good indications from other municipal areas that this is a good surface.” 

The Parks & Recreation Committee took no action on the discussion, but Kowalski agreed to look into pricing and budgeting for the poured-in-place surfacing on at least one city park along with Scray for future discussion and possible presentation to the Finance & Insurance Committee. 

In other business, the Parks & Recreation Committee discussed: 

■ A survey which is being distributed by the Recreation Department to help create a new Outdoor Recreation Plan for the city. The survey will be on the City of Marinette website, www.marinette.wi.us, and via the city marketing email list.