Pfeifer build needs helpers Saturday
By Scott Bellile
Pfeifer Park is getting a new playground this weekend, and the city needs volunteers to help build it.
New London Parks and Recreation and New London Youth Baseball are teaming up to organize a community build at Pfeifer Park. The event comes a year after a similar rubberized playground for children of all physical abilities opened at Hatten Park and proved to be a hit.
“That’s a big push for us, to make sure we have more accessible equipment,” New London Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth said. “Pfeifer Park, to be honest, has very little playground equipment in general, so this is going to be a big boost.”
The community build will take place Saturday, Oct. 1 at the southwest corner of Pfeifer Park near Burton Road. Volunteers have the option to work during one of two four-hour shifts: one from 8 a.m. to noon and the other from noon to 4 p.m. Food and on-site babysitters will be available.
If the project doesn’t get finished, shifts for the same times will be available Sunday, Oct. 2, until work is completed.
“If all goes well, I’m hoping that we can just pump this out on Saturday,” Hoerth said. “I’m being cautiously optimistic on that.”
If the weather is poor this weekend, rain dates are next weekend, Oct. 8 and 9. Shifts would run for the same times as Oct. 1 and 2.
Volunteers interested in helping should call New London Youth Baseball board member Steven Reed at 307-274-0258 this week.
“We’re going to take down the existing equipment and it’s going to go in pretty much the same area,” Reed said. “It’s going to be a much larger space, but we’re not going to cut down trees or anything like that.”
Hoerth described Saturday’s plan as assembling 50 playground posts “like a big puzzle.” He said the weather forecast for early next week is promising, so hopefully a company can come pour the concrete Monday, Oct. 3.
He didn’t offer a preliminary opening date yet for the playground because, in the case of Hatten, poor weather pushed that grand opening back a whole year.
The Pfeifer Park playground will be a $61,727 jungle gym produced by BCI Burke of Fond du Lac, aimed at kids ages 8 to 12, with many climbing components, swings and slides. This playground is larger than the Hatten Park one and costs about $17,000 more.
Unlike Hatten, Pfeifer’s won’t be fully rubberized, but will still has access points for wheelchairs. Hoerth said rubberizing the whole playground would have gotten costly.
The project will come out to about $70,000 when factoring in additional parks staff labor. Hoerth justified the cost by saying the equipment is safe and long lasting.
Reed said New London Youth Baseball wants to offer children a more exciting play area during summer ball season while also attracting more visitors to Pfeifer Park year-round.
The city plans to continue upgrading its parks to accommodate kids with disabilities, Hoerth said. Scheduled for summer 2017 is a third playground upgrade, this time at Franklin Park.
Hoerth said the projects are intentionally spaced out around town so all areas of town will have a nearby accessible playground.
Abraham Park is also listed as a park playground to eventually update, according to the City of New London 2016-20 Open Space and Recreation Plan.