By Anthony Scott

Killeen Daily Herald

KaBOOM, a nonprofit advocacy group for children's play space, has designated Killeen as one of 188 playful cities in the country for the commitments it has made to park space.

One of the reasons Killeen was recognized as a strong candidate for Playful City USA was because of a drafted parkland dedication ordinance that the Killeen City Council has yet to approve.

"In the case with Killeen, we thought the application was extremely strong," said KaBOOM spokesman Mike Vietti. "We really like the concept of the parkland dedication ordinance. That was a program thing we liked - just making sure there's enough green space and play areas for children to play."

Vietti said the organization

would add the drafted ordinance - regardless of whether it is approved - to a set of best practices it recommends to cities throughout the United States.

"Believe it or not, most cities across the country don't mandate or go to the level of creating an ordinance dedicated to ensuring there's ample amount of green space in communities," Vietti said. "It sounds simple and you'd think most communities would do it, but it's not that common."

Every city has to make five commitments toward its parks. Killeen must fill out a play space audit, create a play commission, design an action plan for play, spend on park projects for play space, and proclaim and celebrate an annual play day.

To meet the last criterion, Mayor Tim Hancock will proclaim Aug. 21 the city's official Play Day, which will coincide with its Kidsville event, said city spokeswoman Hilary Shine. The event is from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Killeen Community Center.

"We use it as a back-to-school event before kids have to go back to school," Shine said.

Sheri Wolfe, recreation superintendent, said the city has about 3 to 4 acres per 1,000 residents. Killeen has about 396 acres of park space and roughly 120,000 residents.

To complete the other four commitments, the city filled out an online audit with KaBOOM and has a play commission as part of its community services committee. Its annual action plan for play is its recreation guide.

Evidence of its commitment to spend on play-space projects can be found in the 2010-11 proposed city budget. The preliminary budget shows about $1.8 million might be spent on the parks department if the council approves the budget Sept. 14.

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