By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Efforts to begin organizing the renovation of the Collins Street playground got under way last week as residents living nearby prepare to help make what has long been a dream become a reality.
Supporters of the project launched a Facebook page on Wednesday to serve as an information portal for the project, which will begin this fall after the City Council in April approved the use of $125,000 in free cash — or unspent tax money — to improve the city’s parks.
Out of that money, $100,000 was allocated to the Town Park and the remaining $25,000 will go toward replacing some of the Collins Street playground’s old pieces of equipment with new, safer models.
Marianne Primack and Brooke Burdick Tersolo, who both have a strong connection with the park, are among the volunteers leading the renovation effort, and Primack said the goal is to give the park a facelift and not conduct a total demolition and rebuilding effort.
“We’re really excited, it’s a great neighborhood and so many kids use that space,” Primack said. “It’s a place where a lot of people congregate and people meet, and I’m really excited for the chance to rejuvenate it and inject some life into it.”
The Collins Street playground has long been a popular gathering place for neighborhood children and families, but in recent years many pieces of playground equipment have grown old and outdated.
Primack said the plan is to replace the outdated equipment, including the existing monkey bars, seesaws, freestanding bars, swing set and some rocking horses. There is also a patch of asphalt that will be taken out, replaced with bark mulch and become the site of some new equipment as well, although there’s no sense of what will go there in particular.
Since the two large climbing structures at the playground are relatively new, they will remain as they are. Another piece of equipment that will remain is the merry-go-round, though Primack acknowledged that there are some people who would probably prefer to see it removed.
“We’ve found that half the town loves it and half the town hates it, but we find it to be an iconic piece,” Primack said. “We think it’s nostalgic and the kids love it, so we think that really needs to stay.”
Other improvements planned for the park are new benches and picnic tables, a new basketball hoop for the half court and possibly new painted lines as well, repairs for the fence and a gate at the Madison Street entrance.
“There’s no gate right now and it’s a huge danger with kids just running out into the street,” Primack said.
In addition to trying to make it harder for kids to get out of the park, Primack said another priority they have is to make it easier for people with disabilities to get into the park.
“We’re hoping to make the park a little more handicapped accessible by adding a walkway from the Collins Street entrance to the park,” Primack said. “Right now, it’s really difficult for anyone with a disability to get in there.”
Anyone who is interested in assisting with the renovation effort is encouraged to like the Collins Street Park Renovation Facebook page.