SOUTHINGTON – With the finishing touches complete on the Veterans Memorial Park playground, community groups that fundraised for it are planning a dedication next month.
The Rotary Club of Southington committed to raising $100,000 for a new playscape in early 2019. The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain contributed $50,000 to the project. Plaques recognizing the groups were installed recently although the playground has been open since the fall. The dedication is planned for May 8 at 10 a.m.
In addition to private donations, the town contributed to the new playground. Town workers helped with the site preparation at the Woodruff Street park.
Memorial Park’s existing playscape was built in the 1970’s and was in need of repair. In 2019, Rotary Club leaders committed to raising $100,000 for a new structure.
Dawn Miceli, a former councilor, said the town had hoped to replace the playground and move it to a better location within Memorial Park.
Fred Kuriger, a past club president, said the amount was a big goal but that club members wanted to take on something ambitious.
“It was our biggest service project,” he said. “Our fundraisers have been dedicated to that ever since.”
Kuriger said the club is proud of having helped the new playground become a reality.
“This was a tremendous project for us,” he said.Fundraising and COVID
Rotary’s largest fundraisers are its golf tournament, Mardi Gras celebration and the Apple Harvest Festival. The latter two were cancelled last year with only the golf tournament taking place. That slowed fundraising efforts for the playground although the club did receive community donations for the project.
The club is paying its $100,000 in installments.
Kate Terricciano Sirignano, a club past president, said there’s been enthusiasm among club members despite the challenges.
“A few years ago, we decided that we really wanted to do something big that would impact the entire town,” she said. “It’s been a project that the entire club has gotten behind.”
“We have a lot of members of our club that do have families and kids,” Terricciano Sirignano said. ”It’s a project that’s near and dear to our hearts.”Community foundation
Miceli helped coordinate the town and Rotary efforts and also helped bring in the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain. While a councilor, Miceli said she was always on the lookout for projects that could be completed with private partners.
The new playground is closer to the parking lot, easier to get to and more visible. The new pirate-themed playscape was also designed with expansion in mind. Miceli is hoping to add a swing set and other features in future years.
The playscape also allows access for children in wheelchairs.
Miceli said the new playground is overall a big improvement for the park.
“I love the fencing, I love the signage. It’s a really nice looking playscape,” she said.