Despite rain delays last week, a new playground project at Hatten Park in New London continues to move forward with an expected grand opening in September.
Community volunteers broke ground on the project Aug. 15.
New London Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth said, when it is finished, the new playground will be the first of its kind in the city.
“This will be New London’s first playground with a rubberized surface providing easier access to children and parents with mobility challenges,” explained Hoerth.
The new playground is specially designed with ADA components, transfer plates, and accommodations that include accessible parking, accessible hard surface paths to the equipment, and the ADA compliant rubberized surface beneath the play area.
The $42,000 for the equipment came through private donations from the New London Jaycees, Shamrock Club, Stanley Cottrill, New London High School DECA Club, and the New London Lions Club.
“It’s great to see the community support projects like this,” said Hoerth. “Not only the donations to finance it, but also the volunteers who helped built it.”
On Aug. 15 over 40 volunteers from the community joined parks staff, and playground designers to put in approximately 269 collective-hours installing the equipment. Pat Sullivan from Shamrock Construction donated a skid steer and auger to dig the 40 some holes needed to anchor the equipment.
Julia Martinson, co-president of the New London Jaycees said, “They fit together the last piece of around 3 p.m.”
“We really appreciate the work of those volunteers that day,” she added. “We also appreciated the generosity of the local businesses providing food and beverages for the volunteers.” Piggly Wiggly, Festival Foods, Kwik Trip, Loberg Dental and Walmart provided refreshments.
“The bottom line is that a lot of people chipped in for this, and we’re really grateful,” said Martinson.
“As a Jaycee I am really excited about this project. We are here to do community service, enhance our city and enjoy being young adults here,” she explained.
The Jaycees began planning a “Big Dig” project several years ago.
She said they looked at the community survey done by the Parks and Recreation Department five years ago, as part of a needs assessment and their five-year outdoor recreational use plan.
Through the survey, a number of residents requested an ADA playground, community garden, and a band shelter, were the top three. The Jaycees also had funded a community dog park several years ago.
The New London Lions Club, Trinity Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church collaborated with the city to create the community gardens, which also became a reality this spring.
The Jaycees chose the playground project as their next “big dig.” Soon after, additional donations helped them surpass their original goal. That is when plans were upgraded to make the playground fully ADA accessible.
“The playground is designed for children ages 5-12,” reports Martinson. She said, hopefully crews will be able to pour the concrete footings this week.
City parks staff will be going over the equipment to make sure all the support posts are perfectly level and double check that all the bolts are tight. The concrete will need some time to cure, and then they will work at putting down the rubber surface.
“We hope the new equipment is ready for use in mid-September,” said Martinson.
Those interested in joining the New London Jaycees and helping them develop more community projects may visit www.newlondonjaycees.org