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Year In Review: A New Playground Is Built



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In the same space and in the same spirit of FunSpace, a playground at Dickinson Park that was falling into disrepair and which the town tore down in October 2013, is the new FunSpace II. During that same month, ground was broken for a new playscape, and the new construction was completed and opened to children by August 2014.

Throughout the build at 50 Elm Drive, a large sign with a visual rendering had greeted park guests and offered park information. The new $774,162 Dickinson Memorial Park Playground (a/k/a FunSpace II) was made possible through $438,000 in Capital Improvement Plan funds from the town, bonding, donation, and surcharge funding. Additional funding had been received through donations, many made in the wake of 12/14. Private donations and town Capital Improvement Plan funds made the new, nearly $800,000 project possible.

By May construction on site near the park’s basketball courts saw a wooden tower and series of ramps rising, filling the place where FunSpace used to be. The old playground, built by volunteers in 1989, had offered a place for recreation until it was closed and razed.

Dan Corsetti of Pat Corsetti Inc watched as his crews ran machinery and installed playground features, including the center tower, on May 7.

“It’s a focal point,” he said. The build had started a month earlier. Soon to follow were pathways and safety surfacing in and around the play areas. Construction still had “a couple of months to go” before completion, Mr Corsetti said.

FunSpace II covers about 1½ acres and features natural elements, climbing stones, stationary musical instruments, and a zip line among its features. It is handicapped accessible.

When working on the plan for a new playground, Parks & Recreation Director Amy Mangold and Parks & Recreation Commission members had 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 intended for the construction of play features incorporating nature, education, and an interactive experience for visitors to the park. They can now enjoy butterfly gardens, splash pads, musical features, climbing surfaces, swings, and more.

Parks & Recreation Department members and supporters welcomed guests to a July 26 ceremony at Dickinson Park for a Dickinson Memorial Playground/FunSpace II grand opening.

“We are very excited to be moving forward with our playground celebration,” Ms Mangold had told Parks & Recreation Commission members earlier that week. The day was a celebration of the “creative and fun” play area that had “come to its full fruition due to hundreds of donations” following 12/14. Invited to the ceremony and among those who had hoped to make donations benefiting Newtown’s children after 12/14 was New York resident Marc Pintel. Mr Pintel and family, “who were greatly devoted to helping Newtown,” said Ms Mangold, came to Newtown the morning of the grand opening “to see how their [along with others] generous donation has so wonderfully impacted the scope and success of this playground.”

The July 26 celebration took place as a dedication, but the park the was not 100 percent complete. Ms Mangold had indicated that the event would take place even if the playground was not completely finished. After the formal ceremonies and a few hours of children being allowed to play on the new playscape, the playscape section of the town park was then closed again while final work including safety surfacing and borders could be finished.

By early August, however, the brand-new playground was open for residents to enjoy.

Since then, the late summer days and into the fall and warmer winter, parents have watched as children climbed along the new walkways and swung happily on new equipment.

Tyler and Morgan Drap swing and cast a web-like shadow from their perch on one of the features at Dickinson Memorial Park. Behind them is the playground’s main network of walkways, slides, stairs, rope features, and more, which were dedicated in late July.
A glimpse of the FunSpace II as it appeared in July revealed towers and walkways similar to the playscape structure it was replacing. New features of the updated construction offer a unique play area for Newtown children. FunSpace II was dedicated in July, and fully open by mid-August.
Built on the same location as the former FunSpace, the new playground at Dickinson Memorial Park includes a central wooden tower that Dan Corsetti, representing the firm installing the new play space, says is the focal point of the new play area.
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