Slated to open Friday morning, St. Clements has a new playground for kids to climb, swing and hang out, literally.
Adding to the already existing playground next to the baseball diamonds on Green St., the new equipment is accessible for all, and includes swings that could fit the whole family.
The project has been in the works for a while, says Joe Brick of the Paradise and District Lions Club. It would have taken even longer before equipment was in the ground if it weren’t for a local grant.
“We were only going to do a little phase of it because we just didn’t have the money. Then we ended up hearing about this grant that was available, so I applied for the grant. When you put the grant with what we already had, we could do a bigger project,” he said.
Having the playground equipment accessible to everyone, including those with physical disabilities, is a requirement for park expansion in the region, but the requirements fit in perfectly with what the Lions wanted to accomplish.
The project cost just over $60,000 for the equipment and the installation, and along with the grant from the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, money from the 2015 Tree of Light fundraising campaign and proceeds from the Lions` Tuesday night bingo went to the project.
Picking the specific equipment to go in the park and perfectly suit the children in St. Clements and the surrounding communities wasn’t easy for the Lions. A great deal of research went into making the final choices.
“We visited the playground in Elmira, we visited the playground in Wellesley and Joe actually spent a weekend at a soccer tournament in Wellesley looking at the equipment that was being used,” said Paul Marshall, Lions Club member and chair of the playground committee, adding that the plans changed along the way.
“This wasn’t the original setup. And when we talked to the people who made the equipment, they said this set up was the new thing for the kids, rather than having a static piece of equipment.”
The equipment that the club chose reflects the idea that kids can be creative. Marshall says those who play on the new playground will be able to climb all over it, hang off it and get their whole family on a saucer swing.
The Paradise and District Lions Club will be hosting an open house on June 23 to introduce the community to the new facility. Brick says there will be a barbecue, face painting, balloons and a chance for the community to give some feedback with the equipment. The playground will be open for the public after the wood chips are laid down on June 16.
“We will be doing a bit of a survey, not only to see what the community thinks, but to see if they like the setup,” said Brick. “Then we may be able to get more grant money and expand even more. Who knows?”
The open house starts at 6 p.m. next Thursday and everyone is invited.