An Interview with Executive Director Christine Anderton
GR: Why did the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund select Locust Street Park in Fleetwood, PA for renovations?
Christine: Because of the dedication towards the project from the Borough of Fleetwood Township, PA. In an effort to bring another park project to fruition, the Friends of Fleetwood Playground, Inc., a non-profit, was formed.
After funding was raised for that project, which they also applied for, the focus was turned to Locust Street Park. The community had raised such awareness about the dilapidated and unsafe equipment that the Township inspected it. Shortly thereafter, they removed it completely.
While the lot was vacant for nine months, the community formed their own Locust Street Branch of the Friends of Fleetwood Playground and began fundraising, knowing full well it would take years to obtain the amount of money they needed.
Their dedication and commitment to the park and the kids was telling through everything they had done prior to meeting with us. Our projects are about the community involvement in the process and taking ownership after the “big” revitalization. It was clear that this was already happening, making the decision a no-brainer for us.
GR: What were the community’s needs for an adaptive playground?
Christine: I reached out to the Fleetwood School District and learned that there were many kids with disabilities in the district and surrounding neighborhood. Last year after partnering with the IM ABLE Foundation, we decided to make adaptive equipment a priority on every project moving forward.
The IM ABLE Foundation funded the adaptive equipment for Locust Street Park. This allows kids of all abilities to play alongside each other, with no one being left on the side watching as other kids play and have fun.
GR: What were the non-negotiables in terms of components that had to be on the new playground?
Christine: We took the design that the Friends of Fleetwood Playground, Inc. Locust Street Branch had developed for the park and approached Andy Cush of General Recreation.
He created a unique design for us that incorporated what they wanted along with the adaptability. The community was so excited about the project and loved what Andy had designed. There were no non-negotiables, just thank you’s all around!
GR: How did the community-build go?
Christine: The community-build was better than we imagined! We had just shy of 300 community members come out on June 22, 2013. It was one of the biggest projects we’ve done.
It was unique, however, in that the majority of the work was building the actual playground. We created some ancillary projects to give everyone a piece of ownership in the project. We added a grill to the existing one; built and installed a park bench; planted six trees to provide some shade; created a garden area; and replaced the basketball and hockey nets.
We’re also in the process of creating a pathway from the street to the playground equipment so that it will be fully accessible.
GR: What’s the community’s feedback been since the re-opening?
Christine: Well, the following weekend there was a birthday party at the park, as well as other events throughout the summer. There’s also a Facebook page. A neighborhood crime watch has also begun. The Fleetwood Rotary Club, after hearing of the project, provided security cameras for the park, in an effort to prevent any vandalism. The community is definitely taking ownership!
For more information on updating your playground, contact General Recreation at 800.726.4793 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about other projects General Recreation has completed go to PLAYGROUND PROJECT PROFILES