Story by Katie Bisaro
On any given day, Stanley-Deming Park is teeming with children playing at the playground. The “well-loved” 20-year-old equipment has served the community well but is finally starting to show its age. The time may well have come to upgrade the equipment and a group of enthusiastic community members are dedicated to doing just that.
Warwick Playground Dreams
Warwick Playground Dreams, a group of approximately 20 volunteers, have come together from throughout the area, including the Village and Town of Warwick, Greenwood Lake, Pine Island and Sugar Loaf, to pursue a project that will rejuvenate the Stanley-Deming Park playground. The group is a non-profit organization under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan.
On Mon., Mar. 20, Hannelore Chambers, President of Warwick Playground Dreams, who has been working with Mayor Michael Newhard and Trustee Bill Lindberg of the Village of Warwick, presented to the entire Board of Trustees the group’s plans and ideas.
The group’s vision is a community- designed and built playground, potentially including a splash pad – a water recreation feature with fountains to play in with little or no standing water, a safe alternative for public parks. Additionally, the new equipment will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to be more inclusive of all children.
Warwick Playground Dreams has been working with Play By Design, an Ithaca, NY-based company that designs whimsical playground structures based on input from the community, particularly children. Play By Design has designed and overseen the building of playground projects from coast to coast.
According to Chambers, the organization plans to raise $300,000 to cover the cost of the new equipment. They will work closely with the Village of Warwick, including the Village engineer and Department of Public Works, to move the project forward.
Chambers and the rest of the committee are “encouraged and delighted” by the outpouring of support from the community thus far. “[It’s] inspiring to see how dedicated the community has been in pulling together all aspects [of the project],” Chambers stated.
First Step: Design
The first step will be the design phase. On Thurs., April 6 and Fri., Apr. 7, a team from Play By Design will come to Warwick to meet with Village officials and other members of the community. The team, along with parent facilitators, will then go into the schools, meeting with children in grades K-6 to hear what they would like in a new playground. Children will be able to submit their “wish list” through drawings, narratives or even models. By the end of the day on Apr. 7, the Play By Design team will come up with a preliminary design that will be revealed to the public that evening at an event at the Middle School. Designs often reflect the community in which the playground is built. For example, a playground in Mississippi featured a paddle boat climbing feature. The equipment will also meet ADA requirements in an effort to allow all children, no matter their ability, to play.
Once the design is finalized and approved, the real work of bringing that vision to life will begin. Funds and volunteers will be needed to get the job done. The group is also hoping for donations of materials for the project – a list of which will be provided by the designers once the plans are finished.
In addition to fundraising efforts and events, the group will also be seeking large donors and corporate sponsorships. There will be opportunities for families and smaller organizations to get involved as the group is looking into engraved pavers and fence pickets as ways to raise additional funds.
Once the plans are completed, funds are raised, and the materials procured, the playground will be built by volunteers. The building process typically takes four to seven days. Play By Design sends supervisors to organize and oversee the Build Week. Warwick Playground Dreams is shooting for the spring of 2018 for the completion of the project.
The Board of Trustees was enthusiastic and supportive of the group’s vision for Stanley-Deming Park. Trustee Barry Cheney suggested reaching out to local trade unions for volunteers during the building phase. Newhard expressed his appreciation for the group’s efforts. “It’s a great partnership,” he stated.
See Website for More Information
For more information on Warwick Playground Dreams visit www.warwickplaygrounddreams.com and find them on Facebook.