Mayor Roddy Harrison and Tourism Director Alvin Sharpe were on hand Thursday at the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club meeting to accept a $10,000 donation from the group to pay for playground equipment at a city park.
“What it means to bring children of affluence as well as children of poverty together on a common ground, a playground can do it like nothing else,” said Dave Bergman, program chair for Thursday’s event.
“A playground allows a young person to forget about the problems at home, and to forget about anything that is wrong in their life. They can really set their minds free, and be creative. The Spirit of Williamsburg is alive again with this new playground.”
Sharpe said the playground is part of a larger project that has also involved renovating the little league baseball field, and installation of a wee-ball field.
“It is ready to be used, but we still have some work to do,” he said. “I want to thank you for this check, and what the Kiwanis Club is doing for this whole community. You really don’t know what it means to us to get this type of contribution.”
Harrison noted that the city has already received notes from local children thanking them for the new playground.
“I can’t begin to tell you how these kids are excited about the new playground. I knew they wanted it, but I didn’t know how much they wanted it,” he added. “As a partner with you guys, we have done something, which is really, really great.”
Sharpe said the initial plans were to build the park on the site of the old city pool, but a closer examination of the pool showed that the structure wasn’t very safe.
Instead, the park was built on the old tennis court adjacent to the little league ball fields.
The old city pool site will be turned into a parking lot for the little league and wee-ball fields.
City officials said efforts to build the new playground have been in the works for nearly three years.
Kiwanis Club President Mike Johnson said the primary fundraising sources for the $10,000 donation came from the annual Kiwanis Cruise for Kids and the Harold Mauney 5-K Run/Walk.
Bergman added that 80 corporate sponsors have given to the cause.
So far the city has spent about $100,000 on the project.
“Kiwanis couldn’t do this without our local businesses and our local citizens,” Bergman said.
Sharpe said the city’s portion of the project was partially paid for through a nearly $46,000 land and water grant that required a 50 percent match.
A $24,000 trails grant also helped partially pay for the project. The remainder of that grant will go toward purchasing exercise equipment for senior citizens at Briar Creek Park.
The city is also pursuing a $25,000 state grant to install a recycled rubber surface underneath the new playground.
The city got a similar grant about three years ago to install new gym floors at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center.
Harrison said when the final portions of the project come together by the end of the summer, “it will be a beautiful, beautiful place down there.”
“I want to thank you all again for the gift. We couldn’t have done it without you. We really, really needed that. Thank you,” Harrison told the Kiwanis Club Thursday.
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