WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — After more than a year of planning, fund-raising and advocacy, efforts to rebuild a town playground are in the homestretch.
Last week, the poured rubber surfacing was scheduled to be laid at the new playground at Linear Park, off Water Street, and one of the volunteers helping lead the project said the hope is that the site will be ready for youngsters before the end of the fall.
"It's starting to look like a playground," Amy Jeschawitz said as she surveyed the partially installed equipment that will be finished off once the rubber padding and wood fiber infill are installed.
The brightly-colored, modern play pieces are a far cry from the dated equipment at the park just a couple of years ago, when a safety inspection found deficiencies at the town facility.
That prompted Jeschawitz, Rita Coppola-Wallace and Julie Sniezek to brainstorm about how the play area could be brought up to date and the park reinvigorated.
An ambitious plan emerged that involved reorienting the parking area and, someday, building a multi-use covered structure at the south end of the park -- one of two properties in town that carry the name Linear Park.
"It's a lot of coordinating, especially when you're doing it with volunteers," Jeschawitz said. "Especially when you're doing it with volunteers. It takes a little more piecing together and everyone having time. … Then again, we didn't want to dig it out and have it sit here and have it turn into a big pond."
No danger of that happening now, though the nearby Green River promises to be a draw for visitors of all ages when the playground is back on line for the little ones. And if the Hoosic River Watershed Association's plan for a hiking trail to connect both Linear Parks comes to fruition, water will be an even bigger attraction at the site.
For now, the focus is on the playground, which will include ADA-compliant equipment, including a swing set, teeter-totter, sit-down merry-go-round type apparatus, play house, climbing structures and two musical features.
"We didn't want to do one of those big one-piece things because that's what's over at [Williamstown Elementary School], that's kind of what they did at the preschool, so we're trying not to repeat stuff that's already kind of available or that kids use in town," Jeschawitz said. "We did talk to the preschool to get input from them because they do come down here a lot and bring their kids.
"And then we wanted also to have kind of a broader range age group. So this equipment is marketed for toddlers up to age 13."
Phase 2 of the group's vision for the park will appeal to an even broader age group. The hoped-for covered structure has been discussed as site for outdoor yoga classes and community concerts as well as providing shade for families visiting the playground.
Jeschawitz indicated that the Friends of Linear Park will launch a new round of fund-raising to accomplish Phase 2. Phase 1 is paid for through private donations, a grant from the town's Community Preservation Act funds and, significantly, in-kind contributions from area businesses.
"Maxymillian [of Pittsfield] has done all our excavating work," Jeschawitz said. "They put in the stone [under the rubber pad] and all that. And Countryside Landscape [of Williamstown] is putting together the playground equipment.
"And Maxymillian and Countryside have donated all this work, which is a huge savings for us. We're not having to pay for labor. And Maxymillian was able to get the concrete donated, so we didn't have to pay for the pour for this. There's been a lot of contractors who have contributed behind the scenes."
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