By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — HAMILTON — The Patton Park playground has suffered a lot of battle damage over the years.
That includes broken swings, an unsafe slide and a lack of facilities for toddlers and elementary school age kids, according to Bill Boardman. As part of a coalition of residents from Hamilton and Wenham called Friends of Patton Park, Boardman has been helping to raise funds to bring the playground up to standard.
“The existing playground is underutilized, unsafe and unsustainable in its present form,” says Boardman.
His group hopes to raise at least $150,000. Even more money, he adds hopefully, would mean an even better play area. Not only will the equipment be upgraded, but the Friends aim to improve the landscaping. “It will draw better. It will function better. It will be safer.”
Fundraising should be completed by November. The selectmen, town manager and recreation department in Hamilton are fully behind the effort, says Boardman, who has young children and lives nearby.
“Most of the people on the committee have young families,” he adds. “But we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the support we’ve gotten from older families, too.”
Roughly $130,000 has been raised so far. A first portion of the project — a fence along Route 1A — was financed by another group, the Mother’s Club, and is already built. Groundbreaking for the playground area is expected in the spring, with construction likely to be swiftly completed.
Some volunteer labor will help keep the costs down. A plaque mounted on stone is expected to acknowledge the major contributors. Making an important donation, says Boardman, was Joanne Patton, wife of the late Maj. Gen. George S. Patton IV. “And she gave us some good ideas about the design.”
In addition to paths and plantings, the new playground — built entirely on the site of the current playground — will include a special toddlers area. Rope climbing and a tree house are also contemplated, as well as picnic tables and benches.
Those looking to donate should seek out the website at friendsofpattonpark.org.
As things stand now, says Boardman, “Some of the people in our organization won’t allow their kids to use some of the equipment.” He cites the slide as a particular problem, with a rather dramatic drop at the end onto a hard surface.