March 2014: Hundreds of children on the North Shore are new beneficiaries of a state-of-the-art playground in Hamilton, partly funded by CPA revenue. From 2012 to 2013, community members witnessed the transformation of an old, dilapidated playground designed for children under the age 5, into an updated and expanded outdoor recreation facility containing playground elements for children of all ages. The use of CPA funds on park rehabilitation projects was made possible by the changes to the Act in 2012's "An Act to Sustain Community Preservation" legislation.
The effort was led by a volunteer group of Hamilton-Wenham residents called the Friends of Patton Park. The group began advocating for the project based on a visible need for increased safety. Previously, several elements of the former playground’s equipment contained broken or missing pieces, jeopardizing the safety of kids on the site and causing groups such as the YMCA to avoid using of the facilities during their afternoon ‘Schools Out’ program. The surface around the old playground also failed to meet standards for safety.
Additionally, the organizing group saw the playground project as an opportunity to bring together their community and create new economic benefits for area businesses. Friends of Patton Park hoped a rehabilitation of the playground would not only spur community enrichment, but would also revitalize their neighborhood by encouraging more foot traffic to nearby shops and restaurants.
After receiving an endorsement from several local boards and departments, including the Recreation Board, the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, and the town’s Conservation Commission, Friends of Patton Park submitted a proposal to the Hamilton CPC for one of the final chunks of funding needed to get the playground rehabilitation project off the ground.
The rest of the funding was raised through general municipal funding, and $230,000 came from more than 40 private or in-kind donations, many of which were earmarked for specific elements of the installation.
“The new Patton Playground is a powerful demonstration of a successful private/public relationship,” said Hamilton Board of Selectmen Representative Jennifer Scuteri. “The Town of Hamilton provided the legal and governmental support, as well as, significant seed money using CPA funds. This framework helped to legitimize the effort and facilitate a broad outreach to our community, resulting in a private fundraising success.”
The project broke ground in 2012, salvaging as much equipment from the old playground as possible. New components constructed on the site include swings, slides, ropes, a musical garden, climbing structures, a zip line, and a sand-play area. The project also created a landscaped area with benches and picnic tables for caregivers, parents, grandparents and community members to enjoy while watching their children. Fences and both natural and synthetic surfaces were installed to promote safety. Project planners also ensured that the park would meet standards outline by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by creating wheel chair accessible pathways and ADA compliant equipment.
The project opened to the public during the summer of 2013. To commemorate the opening of the playground, three local Hamilton-Wenham high school students created a video which can be viewed here (keep an eye out for for State Representative Brad Hill and Hamilton Selectwoman Jennifer Scuteri on the zip line!).
>> Check out the Friends of Patton Park website for more information on the project.