2005-10-13 / Front Page

Volunteers asked to fix up town’s playground

By Donna K. Drago

Volunteers asked to fix up town’s playground

The Jamestown Community Playground celebrated its 15th birthday this year, but not without its share of proverbial gray hairs and wrinkles. An effort is underway to refurbish the aging structures based on the recommendations of a recent annual inspection done by the company that makes the playground equipment.

Matt Bolles, the town’s recreation director, said that they were originally told that the “useful life” of the playground was 15 years, and said that “it needs work.”

Many of the structures that need repair and refurbishment do so because of “newly identified safety hazards” that stem from updates to national safety standards for playgrounds, Bolles said.

“For example, the picnic tables need to be corrected because the tabletops are too close to the benches,” according to the standards, he said.

A volunteer effort is being organized to revitalize the playground during the weekend of Oct. 21 and 22.

On those days, some 40 volunteers are needed on Friday for what Bolles called “prep work.” Another 100 volunteers are needed on Saturday to make the repairs, he said.

Sally Schott, a parent and volunteer organizer for the playground effort, said that even though there have been forms and information out for some weeks, the volunteers are coming in in trickles rather than torrents.

“We’re in desperate need of volunteers,” Schott said, noting that the way the weekend is being organized is to pre-form teams based on their skill levels and have them ready to go to work on the days of the events.

“People will probably show up at the end,” Schott said, adding “but we really need to know ahead of time.”

The volunteer forms, which are in many locations around town and can also be downloaded from the town’s Web site, allow people to decide which of four levels of expertise they can handle.

“There’s something for everyone,” Bolles noted.

Level one includes “raking, shoveling and sanding,” and level tools like “hammers, hand saws, drills, and wrenches.”

People who choose level three should have basic carpentry skills and can operate a circular saw, level, and square. And those at level four should have “strong carpentry or construction skills.”

Bolles said that “older teens” are welcome to help out with the effort, but younger children will not be allowed to participate.

Learning Structures, of Strafford, N.H., the manufacturer, will organize the teams and supervise all the construction and revitalization.

Schott, who has a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old twin boys, said that she has been using the playground since the kids were very small. “It’s really overdue” for the upgrade, she added.

She is working to provide food and childcare for the volunteers, Schott said.

Since being built in 1990, the playground has won national awards and other recognition for being a great playground, Bolles said.

“It’s always been a source of pride for us,” he said, noting that with this volunteer effort, “it will be again.”

Download the volunteer form, at www.jamestownri.net. Click on the Parks & Recreation door. Once there, click on the Community Playground Project.

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