Volunteers Still Needed For Playground Build Day
The grassroots effort that started more than three years ago to improve the conditions of a neighborhood park will culminate Saturday with the construction of a new playground at Chadakoin Park.
In order to complete the construction of the new playground Saturday, approximately 300 volunteers are needed at the park located along Washington Street. Vickye James, Ward III councilwoman, said, so far, around 150 volunteers have signed up to participate in the community playground build day, which will start at 8 a.m. and will conclude around 2:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. She said people can come anytime they would like for as long as they would like. She added there will be a free breakfast and lunch for those who volunteer their time toward the construction.
“So we really need some volunteers,” she said.
The preparations for the playground build day started Tuesday with the unloading of the playground equipment at the park. Chadakoin Park neighborhood residents, KaBoom representatives and city and Jamestown Renaissance Corporation officials were on hand to organize the equipment. Today, Thursday and Friday preparations will continue at the park.
The Rev. Chloe Smith said they need around 50 volunteers today and 15 Thursday and Friday to prepare for the community playground build day on Saturday.
“We are hoping the community is as excited as they say they are,” Smith said about the need for volunteers at the park, especially on Saturday. “We are going to build this park in one day.”
Smith said she is thankful for the $200,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s Built to Playinitiative and KaBoom Inc. for awarding the grant to Chadakoin Park and organizing the community build day.
“We are so excited and so grateful to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and KaBoom. We would also like to thank the city’s Parks Department and, especially, we want to thank the community,” she said.
The effort to construct a new playground at Chadakoin Park started in 2015 when neighborhood residents started to meet with Ben Frasier, Parkitects Inc. project manager, and John Williams, city of Jamestown parks manager, to design a new playground. The residents created the Chadakoin Park Project Committee to organize their efforts toward the creation. The committee then started to discuss what playground equipment would be best for the playground with Fraiser, who informed the committee that they would need around $200,000 for the design and new playground equipment.
To raise money, the playground committee sold food at community events like the annual Labor Day Festival at Bergman Park and Jamestown Juneteenth Celebration, which is held at Chadakoin park each year.
The community group even hosted the Chadakoin Park Fest-tee-val, hosted by Jamestown’s Northside Community and Chadakoin Park Project Committee, in September 2015, which leaned heavily upon the volunteer efforts of several musical acts to provide live entertainment. The grassroots committee also started a fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation in order to raise money.
“We knew it was possible, but we didn’t know it was going to happen this soon,” James said. “We were trying to figure out how to raise more than ($200,000). Through the years, we’ve been selling hot dogs during Labor Day and one year at McCrea Point Park. Wherever they would allow us, we were there selling hot dogs.”
Smith also said the committee was asking everyone they knew to donate money toward the playground project.
“We were reaching out to churches and the community,” she said. “It seemed so far away and then we received the grant. We were amazed that we were chosen. It has far exceeded our expectations.”
Earlier this year the committee’s prayers were answered when Frasier, who used to work with KaBoom, contacted Williams about the possibility of applying for the foundation grant that KaBoom awards. When city officials discovered they were awarded the grant, the gears switched toward getting the community prepared for the playground build day.
In June, KaBoom officials held two meetings at Love Elementary School, one was to ask the children what they wanted to play on at the park and the second was to ask adults their thoughts on suitable playground equipment. Elements from drawings the children created went into the design of the new playground.
The new playground will be the largest in the city. The new playground equipment will also be American With Disabilities Act accessible.
The new Chadakoin Park playground will be the 10th community playground built in the city during the last 21 years, including the second time a new one has been built at Chadakoin Park. The other park locations where community playgrounds have been constructed includes Dow, Allen, Bergman, Roseland, Lillian Dickson, McCrea Point, Steele Street and Johnson Street.
For this grassroots story of a neighborhood in need of a new playground to have a perfect ending, however, Smith said one more miracle will be needed as the committee asks the community to lend a hand, literally, one more time on Saturday.
“Once again we are looking for the community to come out. A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into this,” she said.
Fore more information and to register to volunteer, visit www.tfaforms.com/4681781.