For the second time in two years a new playground has been installed at the Lake Avenue Elementary School by students’ parents.
The state-of-the-art Atlantis playground on the Regent Street side of the school was opened to student use this week.
“They are just absolutely, beautifully persistent,” said Principal Barbara Messier about the Lake Avenue parents.
She said the elementary school has limited land to work with and the playground committee, a subgroup of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, was very creative in the way the new playground was planned and located.
“It has doubled the size of the playground,” Messier said on Thursday.
The new playground is adjacent to the Galaxy playground that parents paid for and installed in May 2006.
Messier said a student contest was held at the school this spring to name the new and nearly new playgrounds.
A smaller playground installed by parents 18 years ago at the school was removed to make room for the new.
Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs removed the old deteriorated playground pieces and prepared the site for the new playground free of charge, according to Margo Olson, chairperson of the playground committee.
Parents raised about $50,000 for the project over two years. Students at the school collected nearly $4,000 in change they brought to school as their contribution to the playground project.
The fundraising included a $25,000 state grant obtained for the project by state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady.
Olson said the state “member item” grant took several rounds of grant application to become a reality.
The new playground was installed by parents under the supervision of playground specialists Parkitects of Ithaca during the last weekend of April.
The Landscape Structures Inc. playground arrives in pieces and has to be erected by parents during a “community build” over a long weekend, Olson said.
Olson and other committee members were also involved in the 2006 community build that resulted in the Galaxy playground. This playground also cost about $50,000 in money raised mostly by parents through bake sales and spring plant sales.
“It’s been a long haul,” Olson said. “The families of Lake Avenue are a great group of people, and we knew that this was a real legacy that we would be giving to the community for years to come.”
Olson said numerous local businesses contributed to the project, including Adirondack Trust Co., Stewart’s Shops, the Golub Foundation, Quad Graphics, and Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.
Conboy and Manion and Bonacio Construction were “invaluable in their help by donating site preparation,” Olson said.
“We were really careful to have fundraisers that were not asking people to buy things they didn’t need and we were lucky to have local businesses like Putnam Market partner with our fundraisers,” Olson said.
Principal Messier said the need for additional playground space at the Lake Avenue Elementary School has been an issue since the early 1980s. The school was once the city school district’s high school and didn’t require a playground.
“We are very limited as far as land goes,” Messier said.
She said the parents found a way to fit the playground, which includes handicapped-accessible play pieces, into this limited space. The two playgrounds can now accommodate between two and three classes of students at the same time, she said.
What’s next for the playground committee? Olson said the committee would like to raise money so that trees can be planted along the Regent Street side of the school to shade the two playgrounds.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: