Summit Street’s natural playground enters phase two

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By Joe Cardello
The Essex Reporter

The natural playground plan for the Summit Street School has entered into its second phase. The entire project would cost an estimated $115,000 and is planned as a replacement for the 15-year-old current playground. As the current playground ages it has become more dangerous for children, an example was presented at the meeting at the ADL on Oct.13 of a boarded up slide that has cracked for wear.

“As of last week the urgency has become a logistical one,” said a Summit Street School parent and spokesperson of the natural playground Kelly McCutcheon Adams.

During phase one they were able to raise $25,000 through small donations – most came from Summit Street School parents – and the creation of reading gardens, game tables and playing fields. Adams continued and presented the aspects of phase two.

Currently the project managers have $15,000 in-hand of the $125,000 needed in order to complete phase two. A definitive groundbreaking date has yet to be determined, however hopes are that it will happen during the summer of 2015. This phase would include removal of the older and outdated equipment and relocation of the still usable fixtures. A natural slide, climbing wall, a fort, pavilion and shade tress will be earthed during this phase making it the most expensive and most significant of the three phased project.

The fundraising for this project has taken a multi-pronged approach and kicked off with a spring auction in May. Other fundraising outlets include a paver program, which allows interested donators to personalize a paving stone for the park and a crowdfunding.com page. The project coordinators are also taking in-kind donations to drive down costs for the overall construction.

The Prudential Committee was asked to consider turning over a $5,000 allotment of surplus money at the end of the 2014-2015 fiscal year and a designation of $15,000 at the beginning of the 2015-2016 fiscal year for this project.

Chief Financial Organizer for the Prudential Committee Grant Geisler addressed Adams’ concerns that Parent Teacher Organization had the sole responsibility of raising funds by clarifying that funds could be requested from the school board as well. The possibility of allocating money to the project will be discussed at a later date by the Prudential Committee after they research past involvement with playgrounds and determine the precedent regarding past playground funding.