Riverside Playground Project gains momentum

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — With over $274,000 received through donations from area businesses and individuals, the Riverside Park Community Playground Project Committee in Presque Isle is hopeful to have brand new playground equipment installed and the recently installed splash pad open to the community by late spring or early summer 2018.

Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Director Chris Beaulieu said the City Council has agreed to assume financial responsibility for the project, which will include the purchase and installation of about 32 playground features such as a jungle gym, slides and a swing set for children from infant to age 12. The surface of the playground will be a rubber material called “poured-in-place,” which makes maneuvering around the space easier for anyone using a wheelchair.

The Presque Isle City Council will use funds raised through donations to the playground committee to pay for the $232,000 cost of purchasing equipment, which will leave $42,000 left over to pay for equipment installation. Beaulieu said on Feb. 15 that he does not know what the installation costs will be because he has not yet heard from the contractors, who will base their price on architects’ designs.

“At this point we don’t have a set date for when the equipment will be installed, but we will be ordering the equipment soon and our goal is to be ready by late spring,” Beaulieu said.

Although the splash pad was installed in late summer 2017, the playground committee could not open that area because of final touch-ups that were needed during the fall. Beaulieu hopes to time the equipment installation so that both the playground and splash pad can open around the same time and not pose a safety hazard to children and families during construction.

The Riverside Park Community Playground Project is a joint effort of the Presque Isle Rotary Club, Presque Isle Kiwanis Club and United Way of Aroostook to give new life to a park whose previous playground equipment was over 40 years old and had become a safety hazard.

“In late 2016, we started talking about building a splash pad and Chris (Beaulieu) mentioned during a recreation advisory board meeting that the splash pad equipment would go where the old playground was,” AJ Cloukey, vice president of the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, said. “After everyone from Rotary, Kiwanis and United Way got on board, the playground became a community effort.”
Local businesses are among the more than 100 benefactors that have financially contributed to the playground project. Most recently, MMG Insurance and The Aroostook Medical Center each donated $5,000 while United Insurance has given $2,500. In addition, the playground committee expects to receive notifications in spring 2018 in regards to grant funding that also could contribute to equipment installation costs.

Both Beaulieu and Cloukey hope that in addition to the Sargent Family Community Center, the splash pad, and the new baseball and soccer fields that were constructed near Riverside Park last summer, the playground can become an ideal destination for families seeking outdoor activities from spring until early fall.

“I think any time we can provide more opportunities for children to get outside and enjoy each other’s company that’s not only a bonus for this community but a necessity,” Beaulieu said. “Without the support we’ve received from the public, this project never would’ve happened.”

The Riverside Park Community Playground Project Committee is still accepting donations toward the project, which can be mailed by check to Playground Project, 12 Second Street, Presque Isle, ME 04769.