2011-05-12 / News

Fundraising group works to make money for school playgrounds

By Ken Shane

kidsROCK, a local group formed to raise money to build a playground at Lawn Avenue School, hopes to fundraise $34,000 for amenities such as the climbing rock shown above. So far the group has raised about half of the total cost. kidsROCK, a local group formed to raise money to build a playground at Lawn Avenue School, hopes to fundraise $34,000 for amenities such as the climbing rock shown above. So far the group has raised about half of the total cost. In the summer of 2002, a volunteer group was formed to raise money and build a new playground on the Melrose Avenue School campus.

Just before the new playground was built, another committee was formed to address the playground needs of the adjacent Lawn Avenue School.

“Years ago there was a set of swings on the Lawn School playground, but those swings deteriorated and were removed,” said Lisa Carlisle, an architect from Jamestown.

“Since that time — over 10 years — the kids have had nothing,” she continued. “They have big giant fields and that’s really all they have.”

One of the first orders of business for the new committee was to determine what the students at the school wanted. “We surveyed the middle school students to see what kind of activities they would want,” Carlisle said. “Obviously it would be different from what the elementary school students would want. A lot of the middle school students talked about climbing pieces. They didn’t want the younger type of activities and playground equipment.”

Carlisle and her committee set to work trying to come up with the right installation for the new playground. “We started researching climbing boulders,” she said. “That’s how we came up with the design that we ended up with.”

The committee decided to call their project kidsROCK and Carlisle drew up the plans.

“The boulders are 100 percent solid rock. The name of the company that provides the boulders is Rocks & Ropes and they are located in California. They have a local rep in Rhode Island who organizes everything and they drive the rocks here by truck. They come in one piece. Our design encompasses three individual boulders that will be connected on-site to these ropes.”

The kidsROCK project has been endorsed by the Jamestown School Department and the Town Council.

An archaeological clearance was required from the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission before the project could proceed. “All of the area at Lawn School has been designated as a historic Narragansett Indian burial site,” Carlisle said. “So we couldn’t do anything for years, until we received the go-ahead from the [Rhode Island] Historic Preservation Commission.”

When the committee formed in 2002, they tried to work directly with the Narragansett Tribe for approval. It was only in 2008 that the committed elected to work in conjunction with Jamestown’s best land use plan, which was submitted to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval.

“The Narragansett Tribe has been involved with all of the meetings, reviewing all of the sites for the best land use plan,” Carlisle said. “So they’re aware of this project.”

The approval for the kidsROCK project was granted in 2009. “The site that the three boulders will be situated on is the site of the old playground,” she said. “[The commission] knows that when the swings were put in, the area was excavated and there were no burial grounds in that area. So because we’re putting these boulders back in that spot, they gave us the OK to use that spot only.”

Only a small amount of excavation will be needed for the kidsROCK project because the boulders will sit on concrete pads.

The only remaining hurdle for the project now is fundraising. The total cost of the kidsROCK project is estimated at $68,000. The committee hopes to get half of that amount through a recreational grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. That leaves approximately $34,000 for the committee to raise.

“We’ve been fundraising for the project,” Carlisle said. She said that they have raised roughly $18,000.

At a fundraiser hosted by the Laurie family at Duncan Laurie’s

Dragonline Studio, more than $9,300 was raised. Other contributions have come from the Jamestown Parent Teacher Organization, the Lawn Avenue School Student Council and private donations.

The Leigha Carlisle Memorial Scholarship Fund also contributed to the project.

“My husband Clayton’s daughter died in January 1995 in a car crash while they were on vacation in Florida,” Carlisle said. “A memorial was established and every year a scholarship is given out to a student from Jamestown. Clayton manages the fund and wanted to donate to the Lawn School as well because his daughter was a sixth-grade student at Lawn School at the time that she passed away.”

A second phase of the playground project is planned for the school’s courtyard area. “Phase two has been designed,” Carlisle said. “It will be in the courtyard of the school. It will need an archaeological dig in order for the project to proceed. It’s a large space net, 20 feet high, a series of cables and nets that the kids climb up on. It will not begin until phase one is complete.”

The committee is presently accepting tax-deductible contributions for the kidsROCK project. Checks can be made out to the Town of Jamestown to kidsROCK Project, 25 West Passage Drive, Jamestown, RI 02835.

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