By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — New playground equipment will be installed at the Town Park this weekend, and the Amesbury Park Renovation Committee is looking for volunteers to participate in its community build to help set it all up.
Volunteers are needed on Saturday starting at 7:30 a.m. and throughout the day until all of the equipment has been installed. Then on Monday, concrete foundations will be poured for the new equipment, and volunteers will be needed starting at 8:30 a.m. to help set the equipment. This is expected to take roughly half a day.
The new playground equipment includes a bigger climbing structure, along with age-appropriate areas for toddlers and older children, new plantings, pathways, benches and a barrier between the playground and the pond, according to the Park Renovation Committee website.
According to Eric Gregoire, the mayor’s chief of staff, Town Park will be closed for the duration of the playground installation and is expected to reopen on Friday, Oct. 11. He added that children under the age of 14 should not participate in the community build for safety reasons.
The community build marks the end of Phase II of the committee’s plan to renovate the park. The citizen-run organization has been raising money and developing plans to renovate the park since 2010, and last fall the group completed Phase I by installing the first batch of new equipment.
Their fundraising efforts for Phase II received a major boost in April, when the City Council approved a proposal to allocate $100,000 of the city’s free cash — or unspent tax money — toward improvements at the Town Park, along with $25,000 on upgrades at the Collins Street Playground. Mayor Thatcher Kezer said this investment provided the final funding necessary for the additional playground equipment.
“Our parks and playgrounds continue to see increased utilization and I’m happy to see improvements after so many years,” Kezer said. “The investment by the city represents the goal of making quality of life improvements and recognizes that our parks are a vital part of what makes Amesbury a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
Kezer added that he has also applied for the state’s Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant, which could potentially fund additional improvements for the park should Amesbury be awarded the grant.
“It’s the same grant as the Heritage Park down at the Lower Millyard,” Kezer said. “It’s the same process but it’s for the Town Park, and it would be for significant improvements if we get that grant.”
The new equipment at the Collins Street Playground will likely be installed later this fall, though Kezer said he and the DPW are still trying to work out specifics. He said he wants the equipment installed sooner rather than later so that residents will be able to use the playground right when the weather gets warm in the spring, rather than make them wait until construction is finished.
“If we wait until spring,” Kezer said, “the time-frame between when you can actually install the stuff once the ground has dried out and when people want to use the park is so short that everyone would be standing around saying, ‘Where’s the equipment?’”
Residents who are interested in volunteering for the Town Park community build can sign up on the PRC’s website at amesburyimprovement.org. Prospective volunteers can click PRC, and then, under the community build section, click on “Volunteer for Community Build.”