By Sue Botos
What’s worse than a log roll that doesn’t roll or a zip line with no zip?
For more than 20 years, thousands of children have run, swung, jumped and slid on the Goldwood Primary School playground equipment. But age and use have taken their toll. Portions of the wooden structures are decaying and parts, like a tire swing, are missing. Others, such as the log roll and zip line, don’t work anymore.
In 2012, a group of parents decided that it was time for a playground face-lift, and after meeting with Goldwood Principal Carol Rosiak, formed the Playground Renovation Committee, headed by Beth McBride, Erin Konet and Liz Harmath.
“In spring of 2012 we came up with some ideas and met with (Rosiak) and tossed some ideas to the PTA,” Harmath recently told West Life. But with the district still smarting from the defeat of a 5.9-mill operating levy in May of that year, spending money, even donated funds, was the last thing on anyone’s mind. (A 4.9-mill levy was approved by voters in November 2012.)
Harmath and her group continued their research during the 2012-2013 school year, giving a presentation to the school board in February 2013. “Our plan was just to let them know what we wanted to do and why. We did not expect any district funding,” McBride recalled.
But it was the school district that got the fundraising ball rolling with a donation of $24,900. Harmath reported that on Feb. 12, the Rocky River Women’s Club awarded the group a $10,000 grant and that the Goldwood PTA has committed $9,000. In addition, the Rocky River Education Foundation has supplied a $10,000 grant, and the Lakewood/Rocky River Rotary Club $1,000.
Now, Harmath said, grassroots fundraising will get into high gear. “We’re in the process of going to the community to look for funding,” she said, pointing out that the playground is for all to enjoy. “It doesn’t just serve Goldwood, it’s open to the public evenings, weekends and during the summer.”
Brochures detailing the ways in which the community can help defray the cost of the estimated $120,000 project have been distributed, and Harmath noted that varying donation levels are available, all the way up to the $20,000-level “The Milky Way” naming rights.
Students will get into the fundraising act, too. They can purchase T-shirts designed by art teacher John Rocco, celebrating the popular Gym Rats basketball game, during which Goldwood and Kensington Intermediate School staff take on middle and high school staff to raise money for Hoops for Hunger.
“There will also be a Mitchell’s Ice Cream raffle, where students can win ice cream with a Gym Rats player,” Harmath added.
Children can also paint large art tiles that will be assembled to form a “welcome wall” in the playground, and a children’s triathlon featuring reading, walking and dance (or martial arts) is scheduled for April 11.
After surveying parents and studying the space, the parent group decided on two structures, which will offer five slides and a capacity for more than 110 children. “The pieces urge continual movement,” Harmath said, noting that much of the old equipment allowed use by a few students at a time. “You would have 200 kids standing around waiting in line.”
Incorporated into the new plans will be an existing climbing structure installed in 1998-1999, chin-up bars, and the favorite geodome and dinosaur riding toy. Harmath said that drainage will also be improved, and the playground will be made accessible to those with special needs.
Harmath noted the pieces were purchased during the Play and Park playground equipment fall special. “We were able to save $35,000 on the pieces by taking delivery before Jan. 1,” she said.
Now, the new playground equipment waits in the gym of the Beach Education Center for summer installation and a planned completion date in July. A ribbon cutting ceremony will kick off the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
Harmath added that the new equipment will not only give kids the opportunity to burn off energy, but have fun doing it. “It shows them exercise is not boring,” she stated.