After years of waiting for the right time, members of the Westport Recreation Department are nearly ready to install a new playground at the Town Hall Annex, replacing one that provided endless fun …
After years of waiting for the right time, members of the Westport Recreation Department are nearly ready to install a new playground at the Town Hall Annex, replacing one that provided endless fun for Westport kids for nearly 30 years. Another one is on the way after that.
“It’s been a long time coming,” recreation director Dana Stewart said. “The old Annex playground has been well loved and used by many town residents over the years, but it is time to replace it.”
Replacing the Central Village playground, and also the Bicentennial Playground on Gifford Road, with modern ADA-compliant facilities has been goal of the department for several years. Financing was always a challenge, but the effort got a boost last year when voters at Town Meeting approved a $350,000 appropriation for funds that would be split between the two playgrounds. Stewart said the appropriation still left the town short, and the department was ready to start fund-raising for the rest when they got unexpectedly good news.
Earlier this year, an anonymous foundation approached the town and requested that officials submit their plans for consideration of a possible grant. Late last month, Westport learned that the project had been granted $500,000 for the work, with a request from the anonymous foundation that it go toward the Annex playground first, with any remaining funds allocated to the Bicentennial project, which is still in the planning stages.
"We were overjoyed ... and so grateful for the generosity," Stewart said.
With $850,000 now at its disposal, the recreation department will use $175,000 in town funds toward the Annex playground, with the rest coming from grant proceeds. Any funds left over will be set aside for the Bicentennial project.
In a nod to the history of the Westport, the new Annex playground will have a nautical theme, with a blue, grey, tan and white color scheme. It will feature a large whale for kids to climb on, five slides, multiple swings, many sensory panels, various climbing features, an inclusive see saw, an in-ground whirl spinner and deck levels with a ramp so it is inclusive to anyone in a wheelchair. The ground will be a modern rubberized surface with a pattern on it meant to mimic the Westport River.
“A lot of time and attention went into the details of this playground, and we hope that the Westport community, and any visitors to our town, enjoys this playground for years to come,” Stewart said.
For more information, photos and plans, see www.westportrec.com.
Meanwhile, the department is still looking for donations to help complete funding of the Bicentennial playground. For more information, contact Stewart at email@example.com, or call 774-264-5181.