When People Come Together On Martha’s Vineyard, Things Get Done — Niantic Park Playground Project

Niantic Park PlaygroundOver the Summer months, Island residents were welcomed to participate in the design process for Niantic Park in Oak Bluffs. If you’re wondering which park this is, it’s the one with the basketball courts, tennis courts, playground, and  a bit of open space.

The park is getting a complete renovation, and is being funded by Community Preservation Act funds and the Town of Oak Bluffs. The budget for the project is $750,000, with $46,000 allotted for the renovation of the playground portion of the park.

As the design process continued, a group of Oak Bluffs parents realized that $46,000 was not going to be enough money for a new park design that would be dynamic, safe, beautiful, and fully accessible for all members of our community, and one that reflected some of the character of the town.

Niantic Park Playground ProjectWith that in mind, the group of parents created the Niantic Park Playground Project, NPPP.

The goal of this group which consists of Holly Thomas, her husband Greg Ehrman, Nina Carter Hitchen, David Diriwachter, Jennifer Rodgers Schilling, Brian Packish, and me and my hubby, are working to raise an additional $46,000 for a total of $92,000 for the playground.

The $46,000 has to be raised by January 31st, 2015. Seem impossible? We thought so, but we’ve raised $30,000 so far over the last three months, and the group is confident that the rest of the money can be raised.

Have Fun & Help

The final event, the Family Dance Party, will be held on Saturday, January 17th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s going to be a night of kid-friendly dancing with music by DJ Smooth, games, raffle items, and more.

The event will be held at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs. JB and Heidi Blau have donated the space and DJ Smooth has donated his services, and the rest is sweat equity from the group and supporters.

Family Dance PartyIn addition to donating use of Dreamland for the Family Dance Party, JB is donating $5 from every kid meal purchased at Sharky’s Oak Bluffs (and Edgartown while Sharky’s Oak Bluffs is closed) now until April 1st, 2015.

He knows that we can use all the help we can get even after the January 31st deadline. You can take the kiddos out to dinner and support the Niantic Park Playground Project. What a wonderful reason not to have to cook!

Community SupportDine to Donate

It’s amazing what a couple people can do with the support of this community. This grass-roots group has been working with donors and hosting small, family friendly events throughout the fundraising period. People and businesses are so generous and supportive of the Niantic Park Playground Project.

So many people want to see an engaging, fun playground at Niantic Park. People are happy to be making a difference, knowing that every dollar will go to help children have the opportunity for a wonderful place to play.

The response from the community has been overwhelming, and is a reminder of why living on Martha’s Vineyard is such a gift.

Why More Money?

I live in Oak Bluffs and yet the playground at Niantic Park is the one I visit the least. Other towns have parks that offer more for my children to do, and feel safer to me as well. And I am not alone with feeling like this.

Why not design a park that’s more dynamic? Why not make it more engaging and interesting. Children use that playground all year long, and it’s time for them to have more.

Not only is the Niantic Park Playground Project about raising money, it’s about getting the community involved. Raising the money is only one part. The monies raised, together with the original playground funding, will be used to purchase equipment and materials.

Then, this coming spring we will come together for a “community build” with an expected completion date of June of 2015. There will be moms and dads and kids and supporters from all over helping make this playground a reality.

A play fixture from TruroThe park will have a bit of town character, an East Chop Lighthouse to play in, and old steam ferry to captain and more. People will come from other towns to enjoy the Niantic Park Playground.

The group’s Jen Shillings went to the playground in Truro, MA to get pics and check out its park design, and her kids loved it! We can’t wait to have that in our town!

Lighthouse fixture in TruroThe money has to be raised by January 31st so the group can finalize a design plan. Currently, Playgrounds by Leathers is who we’ve been working with. If you check out their website, some of the playgrounds will knock your socks off.

Unfortunately, many of them cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We don’t even have $100,000 yet. However, Oak Bluffs is going to get a playground it can be proud of, one that will be an asset to the children of the town and of the whole Island.

This project has really brought our community closer together and is a testimony to people’s commitment to our children.

Please visit the Niantic Park Playground Project on Facebook to learn more about this exciting community based project. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to The Friends of Oak Bluffs, PO Box 1281, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Please reference “Niantic Park Playground Project” in the memo.

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