ASHLAND — A play structure that has entertained children in Lithia Park for 20 years is being torn down to make way for a new structure with roofed towers, three slides and at least seven ways to climb.

ASHLAND — A play structure that has entertained children in Lithia Park for 20 years is being torn down to make way for a new structure with roofed towers, three slides and at least seven ways to climb.

The new 34-foot-tall plastic and metal play structure built by Grants Pass-based Krauss Craft Inc. is scheduled for delivery on Feb. 2 and is expected to be installed by mid-February.

While many modern play structures come in bright primary colors, Lithia Park's will be forest green, brown and red, according to Ashland Parks and Recreation Department plans.

The play structure cost almost $28,000, but a $24,240 state parks grant will cover most of that amount, said Brenda Hammers, western division manager for the parks department.

The city will pay $7,900 for installation to Grants Pass-based Bleser Construction, an authorized installer certified by Krauss Craft, to lessen its liability.

Hammers said the project's overall cost was lowered by having parks workers demolish the old play structure themselves.

The old structure outlived its expected lifespan, and replacement parts were impossible to find when brackets or other equipment corroded or broke, Hammers said.

The highest slide was broken and blocked off with plywood because it couldn't be replaced, she said.

"We've gerry-rigged a lot of parts," Hammers said, but added that it was finally time for the play structure to go because of safety issues.

As parks workers cut apart the play structure on Monday, some passers-by read signs explaining the project and others asked what would become of the materials.

For safety reasons, the structure had to be cut apart so no one else could use it, Hammers said as a saw roared behind her.

Metal will be recycled, but plastic parts will end up in a landfill. While at first glance much of the play structure appeared to be made of wood, it was actually brown vinyl-coated plastic, Hammers said.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-479-8199 or by email at vlaldous@yahoo.com.