As the town moves toward spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a much-needed upgrade of the Town Hall Annex Playground, I'd like to remind the community of some history. This all happened 30 …
As the town moves toward spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a much-needed upgrade of the Town Hall Annex Playground, I'd like to remind the community of some history. This all happened 30 years ago so there may be some small recall errors, but the gist is accurate.
The Annex Playground came into being when a Westport mother of small children began calling town officials and visiting offices at Town Hall to find out what it would take to make a playground for Westport children.
Once it was established that the town was OK with it being built where it now sits, a committee of local volunteers, unaffiliated with the town, formed to make it happen. The committee went to work raising funds, exploring equipment, researching design options, etc. The committee held several small fund-raisers over the course of a year. The largest individual donation was $5,000 from a local businessman in memory of his recently deceased wife. There were several donations in the $100 to $500 range from local businesses, a handful donating more. Local suppliers donated or deeply discounted materials. The first phase of the playground was the main structure and swing sets minus the large sand play structure on the west end and a couple of the spring toys. The full cost for that phase was between $20,000 and $30,000 all private donations. The rest was added shortly thereafter for a few thousand dollars more, again all private donations.
The playground was built in a day by a group of about 50 volunteers. The equipment purchase price included the company setting the posts the day before and providing supervisors to guide volunteers. Construction day poured rain and blew a gale. The volunteers labored all day in the wind and rain to construct the perimeter and assemble the equipment. In the final step, clean wood chips were spread over a big puddle of mud to make a shiny, new and beautiful playground.
As some of us were cleaning off shovels and putting things away up by Main Road at the end of the day, the sun broke out and, in an epic goose-bumps moment, a rainbow formed over the new playground.
That playground is a monument to community spirit and volunteerism. I hope all of you who helped make it happen (you know who you are) take a drive by before it’s replaced and enjoy some warm memories of working hand-in-hand with your neighbors for a worthwhile purpose. It felt pretty good, didn’t it?