SCHENECTADY — In the waning days of summer, Woodlawn Park has got its water.
The launch of a new splash pad on Friday marked the first time in nearly two decades water has flowed at the site.
A pool was long since filled in and is now a sand-filled volleyball court.
Funding for the splash pad and cooling center is part of $300,000 investments in the park since 2011.
For those involved, the infrastructure is more than just a park improvement, but rather a symbol of civic engagement of what happens when a group of volunteers band together to transform what was once an overgrown and neglected thatch of urban wilderness into a crown jewel.
Vilma Elliott fought back tears as she recounted the grueling work volunteers spent restoring the site.
“We never complained,” she said. “We became a family.”
Funding came from myriad funding streams, including $55,000 from the city and Schenectady Foundation’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge, the effort designed to empower communities to select and execute projects in their neighborhoods.
Additional funds were provided by the Carlilian Foundation, the Wright Family Foundation, and the William Gundry Broughton Charitable Foundation, and private donors included Trustco Bank and MVP Health Care.
A long list of contractors and volunteers contributed services, including local resident Stephen Harris, who was recognized by Mayor Gary McCarthy for “selflessly giving countless time and effort” to the project.
“This is the kind of model for what you should aspire to,” said Mary Moore Wallinger, principal at the Land Art Studio architecture firm.
The splash pad builds on previous park improvements, including new playground infrastructure.
More upgrades will follow, said project leader Spero Zoulas, including picnic tables and landscaping.
“As great as this is, I don’t think they’re done,” said Robert Carreau, executive director of The Schenectady Foundation. “That’s the Woodlawn spirit.”
Carreau said 11 of the 12 projects announced as part of the Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge are on track, with several scheduled to be rolled out in September.
The city allocated $100,000 for the initiative and plans on allocating the same amount for the coming fiscal year, joining a $250,000 investment by the Schenectady Foundation for the second year of the program.