A year ago, a couple of parents got together to discuss the playground portion of the Niantic Park renovation. The whole Oak Bluffs park was getting rehabbed. How thrilling to have this happening for the Island community.
However, the budget for the playground portion of the park, which also includes basketball courts and tennis courts, was only $46,000. It may seem like a lot of money, but not in the world of playground structures.
Upon learning this, a group of parents decided that they could work together to raise additional monies and create a unique, custom playground that captures the spirit of the Island.
With the support of the Town of Oak Bluffs and with the help of the Friends of Oak Bluffs, the Niantic Park Playground Project was created. Over the year, a dedicated group of parents have helped organize fundraisers, from dine-to-donates, to a family dance party (that hundreds attended), to door-to-door asks, and email campaigns, all in an effort to raise an additional $80,000.
The Niantic Park Playground Project partnered with a well known playground builder, Leathers Associates and together designed a playground custom to Oak Bluffs. The Niantic Park Playground will feature the East Chop lighthouse, a steamship, and a gingerbread play structure, a playground unlike any other.
Along with helping with the design, Leathers Associates is helping the Niantic Park Playground Project organize a community build. What does that mean? It means that hundreds of volunteers are going dig, get dirty, and build this playground as a community.
From Wednesday, October 14th thru Sunday, October 18th, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., you will find volunteers working together to create the Island’s first community built playground.
What’s really cool is that a number of Island businesses and organizations have put together “build teams,” including the Tisbury Police Department, Hutker Architects, Martha’s Vineyard Construction Co., South Mountain, the Oak Bluffs Library, and these are just a few of the teams signed up.
In addition to the volunteers helping with the build, we also have volunteers helping with food too! Since there are volunteers working from sun-up to sun-down, food will be provided for the volunteers.
As if time and food wasn’t enough, so many businesses are donating supplies and services too, like Carroll’s Trucking, West Marine, DaRosa’s, the Steamship Authority, Hinckley’s and there are so many more.
This playground located in the heart of Oak Bluffs is being touched by hundreds and hundreds of Islanders and people who love the Island. A community event of this size has not been seen since the Martha’s Vineyard Ag Hall barn raising in 1994. It truly is a labor of love, all for the children of Martha’s Vineyard.
Martha’s Vineyard is a small, special community filled with amazing and generous year-round and Summer residents. Here, you can, with the help of so many of your neighbors, do fantastic things.
It’s remarkable that a small group of people can generate enough excitement and raise enough money to help build a playground that is unique to the Island. This grassroots project’s members are Greg Ehrman, Holly Thomas, Jennifer Smyth, Guinevere & Matthew Cramer, Jennifer Rodgers Shilling, Nina Carter Hitchen, Veronika Buckley, David Diriwachter, Elizabeth Bonifacio, Catherine McCarthy, and Brian Packish.
That our Island businesses will take time from work to work together to build this playspace, that people will volunteer for days at a time, all to create a playground, a playground that will be enjoyed by children from all over the Island for years to come. It’s truly amazing!
Though so much has been done, there’s still more to do. There is a $6,000 deficit that needs to be filled before October 14th. There are still more volunteers needed, and there are still more supplies, tools, and building materials. You too can help be a part of this Community Build, a part of Island history. To sign up to volunteer, click here
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