TIVERTON – Seconds after the ceremonial red ribbon was cut, dozens of children rushed to try out ziplines, slides, swings and climbing gear at the new Town Farm Playground on Sunday morning.
The playground is phase 1 of a three-phase project to modernize the recreation area in the south of the city, which will also include an adult fitness area, six pickleball courts and two new tennis courts. tennis. Much of the funding comes from a grant of $ 375,000 from the Department of Environmental Management.
Calvin Marchand, who was 5 in 2018 when his foot broke through a rotten wooden plank on old playground equipment, was in the crowd that showed up for the official opening of the new playground on the farm theme, designed for all skill levels, in the north side of Town Farm.
“We’re here for soccer three days a week so we really missed the playing field,” Calvin’s mom Corrie Marchand said, recalling the day Calvin’s foot came through the rotten wood. “They closed it that day,” she said of the city taking immediate action. “They put duct tape on right away,” she said. “He’s delighted to be playing again,” she said of the brand new equipment that was recently installed.
A committee of city residents, led by Stuart Gilfillen, sought community input on the rehabilitation of the playground at the site. They came up with a plan and a long application for Town Farm renovation grant.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Gilfillen told the crowd who sipped Del’s frozen lemonade that McCray’s Seafood owner Mike Napolitano gave to everyone as they stood to listen to speeches before. that the thick tape is cut by a committee line. members and children. The metro provided snacks.
Representative John “Jay” Edwards presented Gilfillen with a legislative grant check for $ 5,000 to help fund the other two phases of the project. Her granddaughter Amelia, 2 and a half, didn’t want to wait until the speeches were over and tried to be the first to run onto the playground, talking about the non-partisan, non-partisan renovation committee that had “a one goal and one end result.
Playgrounds and recreation areas “make a community vibrant,” said Michael Burk, vice president of city council, with playgrounds helping develop gross and fine motor skills and promote socialization. The crowd applauded when Burk said the city was very grateful to DEM for awarding the city’s money through the Green Space grant for the project.
“I can’t wait to see a lot of kids smile and have fun on this playground,” said Abby Gilfillen, 10, who was one of the many children who spoke before the ribbon was released. cut. She also thanked the committee. “It means a lot to us, and it’s just amazing,” she said.
“It was a really complete proposition,” said DEM deputy director Jason McNamee, who said he recently learned about pickleball when his 70-year-old father asked him for a pickleball set for the Christmas party. fathers.
Former member of DEM’s fisheries division, McNamee said one of the best parts of his new job as deputy director is giving out the grants “and seeing the great work communities are doing” with the money. .
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe outdoor spaces, and Rhode Island has plenty of them. “People started to realize how amazing Rhode Island is,” said McNamee, and the new playground is a “perfect example” of that.
“Today we are opening a playground for the next generation,” said Gilfillen, acknowledging the group of women who in 1989 raised $ 40,000 for a wooden playground at the site.
A member of the municipal farm renovation committee received a “cry” from Gilfillen. Josh Coroa, who is a landscape architect with a background in playground construction, was invaluable, Gilfillen said, adding that being on the committee with that training “was like finding a unicorn.”
Gilfillen also recognized the city’s public works department, which he called “the greatest unsung heroes” for the amount of work they did on the project, the police department including Chief Patrick Jones and Staff Sgt. John Leduc who raised money for the project at a recent Safety Day at Longplex, and several businesses in the city, including Humphrey’s Lumber who donated over $ 10,000 in wood fiber, A-1 Paving, Phil’s Propane, Paul’s Press.
“It’s definitely more than I imagined,” said Kianna Gagné, whose daughter Ellie, 3, pretended to drive a stationary car on the playground.
“I like that there are lots of them for people of all ages,” said Anthony Gagné of the different pieces of equipment that some adults would even try, like two-person swings.
“I’m going down this slide,” resident Renee Jones said, spying on the large metal slide a line of children were waiting to climb on. Jones said she would come back when it wasn’t so crowded.