Volunteers needed to build playground
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | July 03,2013
The city’s next playground will be built in a day.
Recreation Superintendent EJay Bishop announced Tuesday that the city was calling for volunteers to help put up the new playground at White’s Park on Aug. 8. The new playground will be designed with the input of local children and funded by the city, a state grant, a private donation and a Canadian charitable foundation.
The foundation, the Ontario-based Let Them Be Kids, has pledged technical support and to double the city’s purchasing power through a combination of grants and arrangements with vendors.
Playground equipment was removed from White’s several years ago, following a 2005 incident in which a girl whose family was at the park for a swim meet fell from a structure and was badly hurt. Another nearby playground disappeared after the Head Start program moved out of the Dana School.
“This project — it’s not going to be about building a playground,” Mayor Christopher Louras said. “This is building, literally, a community.”
The mayor called the playground the next logical progression in the city’s revitalization efforts.
The city budgeted $15,000 for equipment at White’s and Bishop said they secured another $15,000 in a state grant as well as an undisclosed donation from residents Andy and Peggy Shinn.
Ian Hill, a member of the board of directors of Let Them Be Kids, said the organization does not give money to municipalities, but does contribute to the purchase of equipment while getting a lower price. Hill said the process could be likened to the way financial aid generally goes directly to a college rather than passing through the hands of a student.
“Ultimately, the community realizes a significant savings depending on the community and depending on the project,” he said.
Hill said the foundation has almost 400 applications this year and that Rutland was one of 30 communities chosen.
“They showed themselves to have a great vision — not only the right frame of mind but the right frame of heart,” he said.
Bishop said the contribution from the foundation could amount to about $30,000. He said that would give the city enough to install something on the scale of the Meadow Street playground, if not larger.
“That was $45,000 to $55,000,” he said. “That was built 10 years ago, so I’m sure the cost of equipment has gone up.”
A consultant from the foundation will help design the playground, as will local children — meetings will be held where children can cast votes for the sort of equipment they would like to see.
The work day is planned for 1 to 8 p.m. Aug. 8. Bishop said he hopes to see at least 100 volunteers that day.