Loud cracking sounds came from the corner of Funspace at Dickinson Park playground on Thursday, October 10. But the slides, swings, and wooden playscape were empty. The playground was silent except for popping noises and the hum of hydraulics.
Jim Tani with the Parks and Recreation Department worked the jaws of a backhoe bucket, unearthing sunken beams and tearing apart wooden platforms on playground equipment that served the town for more than two decades, and will soon be replaced by new play features. Mr Tani started his work on Wednesday afternoon, and anticipates days more of demolition, he said.
Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold and Parks and Recreation Commission members in past months have said they wish to replace the existing playground with something just as unique.
Working with resident and landscape architect Billie Cohen, Ms Mangold’s department anticipates the construction of play features to incorporate nature, education, and an interactive experience for visitors to the park. They will enjoy butterfly gardens, splash pads, musical features, climbing surfaces, swings, and more. She looks forward to a late spring or summer opening.
A large sign with a visual rendering now greets park guests who wish to learn more about the project — a more than $700,000 scope of work that is a combination of town funds and donations. Mr Tani started his work on Wednesday afternoon, and anticipates days more of demolition, he said.
The new $774,162 Dickinson Memorial Park Playground project is made possible through $438,000 in Capital Improvement Plan funds from the town, bonding, donation, and surcharge funding.
The history of Funspace is spelled out on a plaque fixed to a large stone nestled on the ground near a set of slides: on June 7–11, 1989, Funspace was constructed by volunteers through their “determination, talent, friendship, and love.” The plaque thanks those who donated time and materials “to achieve our dream.” A list of major financial donors follows.
The new playground has also seen a significant share of its funding come in through donation. Stuart Frankel and his sons Andrew and Jeff recently visited town from Manhattan where they left their New York City Stock Exchange firm to visit the park. They had held a charity day where they took a percentage of their day’s business and donated to the playground project.
Parks & Rec will host a groundbreaking on Tuesday, October 22, at 11 am, welcoming the public and “anyone who was a part of building the existing playground,” Ms Mangold said. “This could be a retirement event as well as a groundbreaking.”