By SHERIDAN ROY
The Town Council and the Rotary Club of Southington shared exciting news at the Feb. 11 meeting: the Rotary has stepped up to the plate and unanimously voted to donate $100,000 to rebuild the playground at Southington’s Memorial Park.
The current playground was built in the 1970s and in recent years has required quite a bit of “band-aiding,” said councilor and public works committee member Dawn Miceli.
“Our public works committee has been tremendous in doing that and keeping [the park] open, but it’s definitely time to bring that playscape up to date,” said Miceli.
Upgrades to the playscape were proposed in the public works capital plan for fiscal year 2019-2020. A new playscape was included as part of the master plan for Memorial Park when the public works committee worked on a redesign of the town’s park system several years ago.
Replacement of the playscape would cost about $150,000 to $200,000. In an interest of saving taxpayers the burden, the Rotary stepped in to help cover a large portion of the project costs.
“The Rotary Club of Southington is one of the largest and most active service organizations in town, and we are certainly excited to partner with the town and hopefully rebuild the Memorial Park playscape,” said club member Kate Sirignano. “This is certainly, by far, our largest project and fundraising capital campaign that we will have ever undertaken, but we are very excited.”
Sirignano said one of the main tenants at the Rotary is to promote economic development as well as maternal and child health, “so those fall right in line with a brand new playscape,” she said.
Fundraising for the project will take place over the next two years. The new park will be entirely handicapped accessible. The town will ditch the woodchips and replace it with a rubberized surface. There will be different components for children ages two to five, and ages five to 12. When all is said and done, there will be about 39 components to the new playscape.
The actual location of the playscape will be right between the swimming pool and the fields adjacent to the parking lot, and will feature a pirate ship theme.
“We are looking to do more than just write a check,” said Sirignano. “We are looking to have this be an area where other organizations could potentially expand upon it as the years progress, and maybe have a community garden.”
In addition to the $100,000 from the Rotary, Miceli worked with town staff to apply for a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain for an amount of $50,000.
“We want to thank you and the Rotary,” said Town Council chair Chris Palmieri (D). “This $100,000 is incredible, and we can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate the Rotary stepping forward to help with this project.”
Sirignano said the Rotary is looking forward to their first fundraising event that will begin the process of saving up the money. The annual Mardi Gras celebration will be held March 5 at Tavern 42. Tickets can be purchased online at southingtonrotary.com for $75 per person.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.