Turning a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) request of $438,000 into a $874,162 project through donated funds from various sources, Recreation Director Amy Mangold said this week that a full scale project for a new Dickinson Park playground can take place.
“It is great,” she said. “We are blessed with the kindness and giving of many.” As the existing FunSpace is “retired” as it has “exceeded its useful life,” Ms Mangold anticipates a new scope of play features, and a grand opening of the space on Memorial Day weekend.
During a Legislative Council meeting in early August, Mrs Llodra and the council looked at the funding history. In the past officials had advised that the recreation department scale back its playground plans and funding requests, resulting in the $438,000 in the CIP — until contributions improved that scenario.
“Donors have provided for the original plan and original design of a playscape,” council member Mary Ann Jacob said. “The project has grown back.”
Ms Mangold said this week, “Donors and those who wanted to help Newtown heal and move forward in a positive direction wanted us to be able to build the entire project for the children that we envisioned
Ms Mangold said the final project will spread over roughly 1.5 acres with natural elements, climbing stones, built-in musical instruments, a zip line, ADA accessibility, and retain the familiar feel of the wooden play features with new play value and elements and a water area with sand. The new play area offers “an environment that provides a great way to help restore our familiar feel of Dickinson Funspace but reconnect children with nature and imaginative play.”
Designed with the help of landscape architect Billie Cohen, the project awaits public approval at a town meeting possibly in September.
Any funds for projects of $500,000 or more automatically warrant a town meeting. Although fund were allocated through a less than $500,000 CIP amount, and nearly doubled through donation, First Selectman Pat Llodra said, “I believe it to be prudent and more open to bring the question to town meeting for discussion and vote.” She will be asking the Legislative Council to take that action at their next meeting.
Funspace will “retire” this fall, and bids for building the new space will be awarded as soon as possible “To start the project as soon as we can,” Ms Mangold said.
The new construction will not be located in one area, but spread across the 1.5 acres as visitors to the park walk along a path from one feature to another.