Mar 13, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The new playground at Austin Park, currently being planned by a group of community parents, is ahead of schedule thanks to mild winter weather and is less than 70 days away from construction.
“It is happening in May,” said Kristin Rossi, a member of the Parks and recreation Council of Skaneateles. “The ground is already cleared, the old equipment is gone and the village has been really helpful and supportive.”
For the final phase of the playground rebuilding, PARCS is now seeking volunteers to help physically build the playground the weekend of May 18 through 20, and is still asking for donations to reach the $152,000 fundraising goal, which the group is “just shy” of making, Rossi said.
The Austin Park playground improvement project began last June by a core group of local parents and community members who felt the playground at that time was old, outdated and unsafe. Fundraising and visibility of the project took off in July when the family of 22-month-old Cameron Leigh Kenan, who died in July and whose mother was also a member of PARCS, requested donations be made to PARCS in lieu of flowers.
Since that time, PARCS has raised more than $100,000 for the project.
PARCS, working with playground design company Parkitects, Inc., has designed a new playground that will include equipment, sandboxes, fitness areas, state-of-the-art safety surfacing, wheelchair accessibility and will be, overall, significantly larger and more spread out than the old layout. There also is the intention of returning green space to the park with the addition of new grass, shrubs, bushes and trees.
“I think this is going to be a very special place for kids and grown-ups alike,” said Rossi, the mother of two young children.
The actual construction of the new playground is scheduled to occur Friday, May 18 through Sunday, May 20 and is intended to be done completely by local volunteers.
“It will truly be a community-built playground,” said PARCS member Meg Keady.
PARCS is now signing up volunteers for the project. People will receive a packet of information and be asked to fill out a questionnaire of their strengths, weaknesses and interests in construction participation. Volunteers also will sign up for specific blocks of work time as a way for the group to handle the construction in a safe and responsible manner, Rossi said.
In addition to physical labor, PARCS is also looking for community members to donate other assistance to the construction project, such as food, water and even shade.
Already, PARCS has received a donation pledge from Ace Hardware to donate one bag of grass seed to the project for every bag purchased.
The Skaneateles Village Board of trustees in January donated $10,000 to the project and, at its March 8 meeting, discussed the possibility of having village DPW crews do the landscape grading and possibly cement pouring for the project as well.
“We have received an enormous outpouring of funds, support and volunteers from the community, from local businesses, corporations and so many others who just want to help, and we are so grateful,” Rossi said.
Anyone interested in volunteering for work shifts during the Austin Park playground construction can email PARCS at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
To donate money to the project, collection jars are out at local businesses, or checks (with memo line labeled “playground building fund”) can be mailed to PARCS, P.O. Box 891, Skaneateles, NY, 13152.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.
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