Story by Sara Paul
In Pine Island’s picturesque Black Dirt region, one can often enjoy planting an onion, picking an onion, peeling an onion, cooking an onion, and best of all, eating an onion. It is not as common, however, to hear the excited cries of impatient youngsters, exclaiming, “Now, let’s go IN the onion!”
On Fri., Aug. 30, local officials, community groups and residents of all ages gathered at Pine Island Recreational Park for its official ribbon cutting ceremony. While the majority of the Park’s new structures were open for business at the end of June, the late August event marked the completion of the final piece – a giant onion.
“Since we are the onion capital of the world, it seemed fitting that we pay homage to what makes Pine Island so famous. Pine Island is probably one of the best communities in America to live in. We have some of the hardest working farmers in the country that live here,” said Susan McCosker, a key planner in the playground revitalization.
The shiny, new onion apparatus includes climbing ropes and a talking device, which looks like a shower spout and in the future will be hooked up to an identical talking device via PVC pipe so that kids can talk to each other from playground structures yards away. All new elements were custom made by a Minnesota-based company, Landscape Structures, who utilized all made-in-the-USA materials. The work began in May 2019.
“It’s just great! I’m very excited. Look at all the kids here. We really owe a huge thanks to Susan McCosker and Greg DeBuck,” said Recreation Camp Director Nancy Scheinert.
DeBuck, a P.I. native and key player in the project, who enjoys the park with his four children and his wife Kat, commented, “This is the heart of Pine Island. A lot of people come here, and it really needed this upgrade.”
He added that the beautification of the land was quite serendipitous, as the chief financial donors, the Kosuga Family, also inhabited the same land, with their vast farms surrounding the site. There is even a Kosuga Lane nearby, DeBuck noted.
Camp Co-Director Paulette Wilk Rudy added that the new equipment makes it accessible for everyone – young kids, babies, people with special needs, and even those who need help with occupational and physical therapy.
The Lions Club, in particular George McManus and Erin Anderson, with assistance from Roe Brothers Lumber, donated four new Trex benches complete with cup holders. The Purta family assisted with the Park’s dedication sign. Carol Lahti of the Kid’s Club House also donated several new trees.
“The Town is grateful for the very generous donation by the Kosuga Foundation for this beautiful playground. We also want to thank Susan McCosker, Greg DeBuck, the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce and the Pine Island Recreation Program for making this possible,” said Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton.