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After Community Controversy, Nelly Custis Park Overhaul Set to Kick Off

Work could soon get started on the once-controversial overhaul of Nelly Custis Park in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

The County Board is set to approve a $643,000 contract for construction at the park, located at 701 24th Street S., at its meeting this weekend. Changes will include some fixes to the park’s drainage problems, new plantings and fresh playground equipment.

The latter feature attracted the most community scrutiny two years ago, with a group dubbed the “Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks” doing battle with neighbors over the utility of adding more playground space to the park. Opponents argued the playground was unnecessary, as it was the third playground in just over one block, and took up green space at the small park, which is just under one acre in size.

The spat ultimately led to county officials issuing a public apology for their handling of the situation, and the county ultimately convened a neighborhood working group to refine the project’s scope.

The current construction plans call for “a play space designed for ages 5-12 in addition to non-structured casual space” and replacements for “outdated” playground equipment, per a staff report prepared for the Board. The project will be funded as part of the county’s “Neighborhood Conservation” program, a fund set aside for minor neighborhood infrastructure improvements that could see big cuts and other changes in the coming years.

So long as the Board approves the contract Saturday (Sept. 22), the county hopes to begin work on Nelly Custis Park before the year is out and wrap it up by summer 2019.

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