Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Organizer: Playground effort aims to help kids, West Franklin healing

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 7/1/2013

WILLIAMSBURG — It was seven years coming.

Community members spent the past several years raising money to fund the newly constructed playground next to the Williamsburg Community Building, 126 W. William St., Williamsburg, Matt Froggate said.

WILLIAMSBURG — It was seven years coming.

Community members spent the past several years raising money to fund the newly constructed playground next to the Williamsburg Community Building, 126 W. William St., Williamsburg, Matt Froggate said.

Froggatte, president of the Williamsburg Recreation Board, said about 50 people showed up Saturday morning to help build the playground.

“It went great,” Froggatte said. “I helped order [the playground] from Fry & Associates, Inc. out of Kansas City. It will be ready for kids to play on [today].”

Community members knew they wanted to do something for the community and its children, Froggatte said, they just weren’t sure what to do.

“We started with community funds seven years ago, and we didn’t know what we were going to do with them,” he said. “But we were doing a recycling program, and the steel [being collected] would make about $250 a month off recyclables.”

The playground cost $35,000, Froggatte said, which was the reason it took seven years to raise enough money to build.

“We decided for sure we wanted to do a playground, and we had no idea they were that expensive,” he said. “As we figured it out, the rec board had money in their budget.”

As the president of the recreation board, Froggatte decided the organization would donate $10,000 toward the playground project and challenged the City of Williamsburg to do the same.

“We challenged the city with matching funds,” he said. “We said ‘We’ll match up to $10,000 of what you put up.’ [The city] put up $10,000, and the rec board put up $10,000.”

The money from the steel recyclables — $15,000 — put the grand total at $35,000 Froggatte said. After narrowing their options down to two playground designs, the community left it up to the children to make the final decision.

“We took it to the kids at Williamsburg Elementary, and it went through a democratic process and they voted on which playground,” he said.

A controversial June 4 West Franklin bond election left members of school district community at odds with each other, Froggatte said, but he’s hoping this playground might help bring people back together.

“The recent school bond proposal created a lot of division, and some pretty deep wounds in some of the western Franklin County residents,” he said. “As citizens, as a town and as a school district as a whole, we desire to move forward. By taking proactive, positive steps toward repairing and rebuilding relationships, we feel we can reclaim our strong sense of community. We feel like this project was an excellent example of what our communities can do when we all put our minds in the right place, and strive to advance in the same direction.”

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