Last year was nearly the year without playgrounds for the village of Saugerties. As spring approached, its new insurance carrier issued a stark ruling: Replace most of the equipment at three village playgrounds or close them down. New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) relented after public outcry, and the playgrounds were swarmed with children as the warm weather came, as they had for decades.
But that didn’t mean the company’s safety concerns went away. The village still needs to make numerous improvements to the Village Beach, Seamon Park and Lions Club playgrounds. The items included swings the inspector said were too close together, slides with inadequate soft landing spots at their bottoms, monkey bars that were too high and removal of a wooden climbing structure at the Lions Club playground on Washington Ave.
Unlike last spring, when the job of replacing all equipment overwhelmed village officials and residents alike, this year the attitude is can-do. A number of village residents are joining with George Terpening, the superintendent of the Department of Parks, Buildings and Grounds, to raise money to replace the equipment.
There is about $30,000 in Terpening’s budget for the purchase of new equipment, and the Lions Club “is doing a great job in raising money to replace equipment at the playground it sponsors,” Terpening said.
Heidi Brandt, who operates Heidi’s House Day Care on Lafayette St., along with friends Tammy Leary and Hope Smith, have become involved in the fundraising effort.
“I take all the kids from my day care to the three parks to play, and decided if we use the parks, we should help raise money to support them,” Brandt said. “We go to the Lions Club playground during the summer to swim in the little wading pool they have there, and we take the older kids to the beach to swim, and we all go to Seamon Park, which the kids call Fish Park.” (The name comes from the coy fish in the pond at the foot of the hill, which the children feed.)
Brandt and her team recently held a Pampered Chef fundraiser from which they hope to be able to donate $300 to the playground fund.
They are also collecting small electronic items to recycle for cash. Right now there is a recycling bin at Village Hall (43 Partition St.) with more locations coming.
Brandt said all winter long the basketball program at the Donlon Gym has been saving its deposit bottles and cans for the group.
“Our goal is to raise $10,000 to donate for playground equipment,” Brandt said.
“This is a great effort by Heidi,” Mayor William Murphy said. “The kids from the Saugerties Athletic Association basketball program have been saving their deposit bottles all winter for the program.”
“Replacing all the equipment is expensive and it might take us a couple of years to get it done, but we will,” Murphy added.
“We’re looking to combine our money with whomever wants to help raise funds,” Terpening said. “This will enable us to get some of the bigger items.”
This summer the parks crew will be digging up under the swings, money bars, and slides to put down mulch to make it safe for kids to land, “and maybe getting some new equipment,” Terpening said.
To donate, make a check payable to The Saugerties Playground Fund and drop it off or send it to the Village Hall at 43 Partition St., Saugerties 12477 or call Brandt at (845) 247-8750.
Donations can also be made online at the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/8lzm7c.