By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Westborough Tot Lot Committee members have been attending community events year-round to spread the word about their commitment to build a playground at the Bay State Green, the town park at Bay State Commons. Now, the town-appointed committee has launched a fundraising campaign for their grassroots project, which is estimated to cost between $150,000 and $175,000.
Sponsorship levels range from $500 to $20,000 and up. The campaign’s first higher-range sponsor is the Westborough Civic Club, pledging $25,000. The club’s donation was made in the midst of its 40th annual Christmas tree fundraiser, noted Erica Dube, the committee chair.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the Civic Club,” she said. “Their impressive donation represents so many Christmas tree sales. To think of how hard they worked for that money and how they’re supporting something that’s really going to make a wonderful difference here in Westborough.”
The Bay State Green opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided by town officials in 2009. Since then, donations have funded various enhancements. Conversations to form a committee for the proposed playground at that location began late 2013.
“There had been some talk of including a playground at the site where we intend to put one, but there were other funding priorities,” Dube explained. “The current effort to build a playground there resulted when Megan McDonald and I talked at a playgroup about a central place for kids to play downtown. We learned that Town Manager Jim Malloy wanted to focus on getting a playground built.”
Soon after, the committee formed with Dube as chair, McDonald as secretary and treasurer; they were joined by mutual friend Jennifer Strong as vice chair. The committee was appointed by Town Manager Jim Malloy and the Board of Selectmen. Support also came from Alan Grady, director of Westborough Recreation.
“Alan helped us survey the community,” Dube noted. “We conducted a survey in 2014 via the recreation department to find out what the community’s priorities were for equipment to include at the playground. The designs are based on the results.”
Two contractors were consulted based on recommendations. After reviewing both proposed designs, the committee chose the one that they felt best complements the park’s aesthetics and incorporates the most equipment within a relatively small space.
Designed for children ages 2 to 8, the playground is expected to feature two climbing structures with slides, a bridge, tunnels, playhouse areas, a sandbox, and swings including one accessible for children with physical disabilities.
From spring through fall, the committee conducted a children’s coin drive for the playground. It was an opportunity for them to share their ideas with the public at several events including the Westborough Spring Festival, Screen on the Green, Westborough July 4th Family Block Party and Arts in Common.
“The purpose of the coin drive was to raise awareness for the project and to make kids in the community feel like they had some ownership in it as well,” Dube explained. “It was fun seeing them stop by our table at all the events. We’ve been really impressed with the community support.”
The playground is expected to be installed in the spring of 2017. Dube believes that a playground at Bay State Commons would benefit multiple populations in town.
“The central location is such a key part of the project,” she noted. “It allows a lot of families from the downtown area to walk there. And it allows people who are taking advantage of all the downtown businesses to also have a recreation outlet.”