'Gung-ho' for playground
Determined pair of moms led group to raise $140K for new Suydam Park facilities
By selling bricks, benches and boulders, Rebuild Our Park has reached its goal and raised over $140,000 to build a new playground at Suydam Park.
Led by self-described “gung-ho playground ladies” Haley Birenzweig and Eryn Green, the group has been working towards rebuilding the playground since spring 2011.
While the two moms are recent additions to the cause they are not new to the playground. They have seen the play structure deteriorate.
“I grew up playing on this exact play structure,” says Birenzweig. Today, she points to the worn-down wood. “There are actually nails sticking up.”
Birenzweig adds her children are starting to read and she doesn’t want her kids reading some of the inappropriate words currently written on the structure.
Working with the city, the ladies expect the playground to be completed by early August. The city is allocating $125,000 to the project. Currently, the city is in the process of tendering the money and hiring contractors. The project is scheduled to start at the beginning of June and to take six to seven weeks.
The current plan is to have two structures, one for toddlers and one for kids 5 to 12.
Green says toddlers will have three slides, some climbing elements and a hammock on their structure.
“There are binoculars and steering wheels and that kind of stuff,” she adds.
There will be a basket swing, a balancing device called a spica and a structure complete with a slide and monkey bars aimed at the older kids.
All ages will enjoy the playhouse and the fire engine.
“Our original idea was to do a natural playground — you know, like a slide coming down in the hill,” says Green.
Birenzweig explained the idea was rejected due to the ravine’s heritage designation.
Even if they could build into the ravine, Green notes that it would have been very expensive. “This is already $250,000 installed. The natural is very, very expensive.”
The new ideas were inspired by other installations.
“Eryn and I have been visiting playgrounds all over the city,” says Birenzweig. “We actually went on playground excursions to see what kids were playing with, what they liked.”
Both moms hope the new structure will be around for years to come.
“This will be a real hub — I think this will have real action here,” says Birenzweig. “I have two boys who will be here every day.”
Green’s daughter who will be three in July, loves the idea of the new park.
“That’s why I do it, because she’s so excited about it.”
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