The public is invited to join Newtown Parks & Recreation Department staff and supporters on Saturday, July 26, at 11 am, at Dickinson Park for a Dickinson Memorial Playground (FunSpace II) grand opening celebration.
“We are very excited to be moving forward with our playground celebration,” Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold told Park and Recreation Commission members Tuesday night, July 8. The day will be a celebration of a “creative and fun” play area that has “come to its full fruition due to hundreds of donations” following 12/14, she said.
Past renditions of the interactive, natural, and educational play area designed by resident and landscape architect Billie Cohen would have been completed in phases as money became available to the recreation department. Private donations from groups and individuals, of which several will be in attendance on July 26, have made the project’s full scope possible.
Ms Mangold commended Ms Cohen; contractor Al Corsetti, vice president of Pat Corsetti Inc; and Parks & Rec staff for their “fantastic job at working together” to keep the project on track.
After experiencing some minor construction delays, she told the commission that all design elements would need to be installed before a safety surface can be put in place. A subcontractor for the surfacing could begin work as soon as July 14, and other work will follow. With a tight timeframe that depends in part on Mother Nature’s cooperation, Ms Mangold said, “Everyone is committed” to the July 26 opening.
The celebration will take place on the 26th, even if the playground is not ready to open. Supporters, including New York resident Marc Pintel and family, “who were greatly devoted to helping Newtown,” will be coming to Newtown that morning “to see how their [along with others] generous donation has so wonderfully impacted the scope and success of this playground.”
Ms Mangold’s fingers are crossed that FunSpace II will be ready to open that day. If not, the day will still be a “wonderful community celebration with some special speeches, music, refreshments, and lots of excitement.”
In October 2013 the FunSpace playground, built in 1989, was already partially razed when a handful of officials and supporters held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new playground. That day as the group said farewell to the old playscape, they welcomed the start of the new, nearly $800,000 project, made possible through private donation and town Capital Improvement Plan funds.
At that time, Ms Mangold had described the final project, spreading over roughly 1.5 acres, as having natural elements, climbing stones, built-in musical instruments, a zip line, and ADA accessibility, while retaining the familiar feel of the wooden play features with new play value and elements and a water area with sand. The new play area will offer “an environment that provides a great way to help restore our familiar feel of Dickinson FunSpace but reconnect children with nature and imaginative play.”
Mr Pintel, who had been at the October groundbreaking, said at that time, “It’s an honor to be part of this.” Although he did not lose anyone in 12/14, he had said, “I wanted to help.” Along with other gifts he gave to town officials, he said, “I hope the playground provides healing and strength for all who use it.” He is president and CEO of Pintel For The Homeless, a charitable organization to assist homeless families and children in the New York area.