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Presque Isle to unveil new playground during Sept. 8 grand opening

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A community endeavor that has been two years in the making will be celebrated Saturday, Sept. 8, when Presque Isle officially opens its new playground to the public.

Recreation and parks director, Chris Beaulieu, has announced that city officials as well as members of the Presque Isle Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and United Way of Aroostook will hold a short ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in conjunction with the BikeMaine festivities, which will start at 7 p.m. that evening. The group will dedicate the playground to the employees of Falcon Transportation, who contributed $39,000 that was needed to buy tables, chairs and benches and a shade structure for the area. The company contributed a total of $89,000 to the playground project.

The project began in fall 2016 as a joint fundraising effort between the Presque Isle Rotary Club, Presque Isle Kiwanis Club and United Way of Aroostook, which together initially raised $274,000 through community donations. Total donations from community businesses, organizations and individuals raised the amount to $330,000 toward the $470,000 project, according to Beaulieu. The City of Presque Isle put forth around $144,000 of its own funds toward those initial estimated costs.

Then in April, the Presque Isle City Council approved an additional $141,191 to cover unanticipated costs related to the installation of a two-inch blue board insulation underneath the playground and a wheelchair-accessible pour-in-place surface. Installation of playground equipment was delayed from spring 2018 to August due to necessary modifications by the manufacturing company and will soon be completed by the Mapleton-based Buck’s Construction.

“We could not have completed this project without the donors who stepped up to help and we’re very grateful for their generosity,” Beaulieu said. “This is a playground that they can be proud of and that the community can enjoy.”

Playground features will include a swing set, slides, a jungle gym and other climbing equipment for children from infant to age 12. Currently the splash pad located adjacent to the playground has seen numerous visitors every day throughout the often humid summer and a Snack Shack recently opened for families looking for a treat while they visit.

With the $39,000 donation from Falcon Transportation, the recreation and parks department has purchased and installed picnic tables and benches. They also purchased a shade structure, but will install that next spring due to the summer months already nearing their end this year.

Beaulieu noted that although most of the playground is equipped to withstand the harsh winter weather, smaller pieces of equipment such as swings will be removed and stored indoors until spring. He expects that the splash pad will remain open until late September or early October while the playground will be open year-round everyday until dusk.

He noted that members of the public are invited to attend the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 8 and be among the first to try out the newly installed playground.

“Between the soccer fields, the playground, splash pad and the Snack Shack there are plenty of reasons for families to come to Riverside Park and have fun for a couple hours,” Beaulieu said. “Anything that brings more people to downtown Presque Isle is something we’re glad to be part of.”

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