PORTER CORNERS – Five-year-old Henry Therrien had no idea that the green saucer swing was on a playground made, in part, from recycled ocean waste. All he knew was that the town of Greenfield’s new playground, which opened Monday, had a swing similar to the one at his friend Daniel’s house.
But when Therrien found out that the playground was the nation’s first installation of a Kompan GreenLine playground, featuring equipment like a seesaw, tipi carousel spinning toy and train made entirely from recycled materials–including plastic found in the ocean–Therrien got even more excited.
“It’s so cool,” Therrien said, swinging back and forth. “Because they made it into cool stuff.”
Mom Kate was equally impressed that Greenfield had installed what the town says is the country’s first playground of its kind.
“I think it’s really cool to go green. You can’t even tell,” Kate Therrien said, pointing to the equipment. “It shows even some of the smallest towns can make a big impact on our environment. You don’t have to be a big city to be able to make a big difference.”
The Therriens were one of more than a dozen families to celebrate Monday’s ribbon cutting of the new playground at Brookhaven Park and Golf Course in Porter Corners. Greenfield purchased the playground equipment for $130,000, and the new playground is 5,184 square feet, approximately 108 by 48 feet and geared for kids ages 2 to 12. A Kompan spokesperson did not return phone and email messages Monday looking to confirm that the Greenfield playground is the first GreenLine playground in the country. Kompan launched its GreenLine products in 2021.
Greenfield’s playground includes a large climbing piece with two slides and a fire pole, a swing set, a spinning pole, and a climbing net shaped like a tunnel. It also features five freestanding GreenLine pieces, which Kompan–a Danish company–made entirely from ocean waste, consumer recycled plastic and textile waste.
More than 640,000 tons of fishing gear are dumped and discarded in the ocean every year, the same weight as 55,000 double-decker buses, according to Kompan’s website. The fishing gear is referred to as “ghost gear” and creates 10% of the total ocean plastic pollution. A single World Wildlife Fund-led cleanup mission in 2015 in the Baltic Sea hauled up 268 tons of nets, and the port of Wellfleet, Mass., has collected 367,000 pounds of old fishing gear since 2008, according to Kompan. The company says fishing nets are primarily made of different kinds of plastic, and modern recycling methods allow Kompan to transform such material into playground equipment.
The fact that much of the playground equipment was made with recycled material was a positive bonus to a larger mission of simply adding more recreational amenities in Greenfield in response to increased demand as a result of the pandemic and a growing population, said Rebecca Sewell, Greenfield’s recreation director.
“During COVID, we put a lot of concentration on our parks, and this is the culmination of it,” Sewell said.
The town also upgraded the playground equipment at Middle Grove Town Playground and Park in November 2020. Sewell said future plans in Greenfield call for additional walking trails, pickleball courts and baseball fields, among other amenities.
“We have limited playground areas, and with a growing community, especially with younger children, it was important to start adding more of this and upgrading everything that we do have. The old stuff needs to go out, the new stuff needs to come in,” said Town Supervisor Kevin Veitch. “And we’re a big area. We need to cover a lot of spaces. It’s not convenient for some people having to drive all the way across Greenfield.”
The 41,000-acre town, made up of Greenfield, Porter Corners and Middle Grove, is home to 8,200 residents–up from roughly 7,400 residents in 2018. Brookhaven Park was originally opened in 1960 under the ownership of O.B. Beyer Recreation Park Inc., an employee organization of the International Paper Mill in Corinth that donated the park to Greenfield in 2011, according to the town. The 365-acre park that’s home to the new playground features many acres of wooded trails and a 3,600-square-foot pavilion for picnics and parties.
Liz Reid, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom caring for four kids–ages 2 to 8–plans to take full advantage of the new playground roughly 10 minutes from her home.
“I hope to come here on a regular basis and play with the kids,” she said. “It’s a nice place–there is enough space for the dogs to be here, too.”
Reid’s 8-year-old son, Theoderic, said he really enjoyed climbing on the tubular net on the new playground. But he was a fan of the tipi carousel spinning toy, too–one of the structures made entirely from recycled material with the planet’s long-term health in mind.
“I figured out how to put pressure on it, and it spins,” Theoderic said. “I’m able to spin for a long time.”
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.