May 13, 2016 -- Two years of planning, designing and feverish fundraising culminates this weekend with the construction of K.C. Heffernan Elementary School’s new playground.
When Marcellus Central School District first identified the need for an updated playground two years ago, the KCH Parent-Teacher Organization stepped forward and took the reins of the $100,000 project. Since that time, the group has organized mail-order flower sales, held raffles, even stood outside the 5 Below retail store in Fairmount, to hand out coupons supporting their efforts.
They also fanned out into the community to secure donations and assistance from community businesses and volunteer organizations, including: Prize-a-Poolza, Community Foundation, Golf Ball Drop, Marcellus Optimists, Flower Power, TEK Golf Tourney, ReBound, AmeriCU, Marcellus Academic Club, Olde Home Days Committee, 2015 Bricks for Kids, DOT Foods, Friends of Marcellus Park, McClurg Construction & Remodeling, Saunders Concrete, 2015 Dance Recital, The Marcellus Class of 1993, DMS Walk-a-thon, Girl Scout Troop No. 10384, 5 Below, Marcellus Pharmacy, Marcellus Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Plis Funeral Home, Marcellus Family Medicine, KCH Teachers Denim Day, RJ Frost Hauling, Reagan & Dailey Attorneys, Daniel’s Grill, Mustang Pride, Pave the Way Bricks fundraiser and Nancy Seeley.
A $50,000 grant from Senator John DeFrancisco’s office helped the volunteers cross the fundraising finish line.
Students, meanwhile, helped with the playground’s design, which was brought to life by R.E. Woodson Inc. of Rochester. (See artist rendering at right.)
The playground becomes a reality this weekend. The Town of Marcellus Highway Department has removed and disposed of the old playground, which stood since 1993, and are in the process of boring more than 100 holes for posts that will form the foundation for the structures. Then, starting Friday, Board of Education President Ryan Riefler will lead a merry band of more than 100 volunteers through a community build that extends through the weekend and involves assembling and erecting the playground’s components, which arrived on campus Wednesday (photo above right). Next, the posts will be secured with concrete, using the 420 80-pound bags of concrete and 70 concrete blocks donated by Marcellus alumnus Andrew Aupperle of Siteworks Inc.
Employees with the school district’s buildings and grounds department will then distribute fall protection material around the playground early next week. After BOCES inspects the site, it will be available to the children. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, which Senator DeFrancisco is expected to attend, is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. May 26.
“Our motto has been ‘A 21st century playground for our 21st century kids,’ and to see that achieved will make the last two years of hard work more than worth it,” said Kathleen Gardiner , chair of the K.C. Heffernan PTO and Playground Committee. “It has been a real joy to watch our community come together to reach this goal and speaks to how invested the community is in the well-being of our school and children.”
“This is an amazing feat by a parent/teacher organization to fundraise and build a new playground for our children,” Riefler said. “I’m so proud to be a part of this community.”
In addition to such playground staples as slides, steps, catwalks, tubes and monkey bars, the new structure also includes: a “cocoon,” an enclosed sphere specially designed for children with autism spectrum disorders; a “triumph climber,” that encourages children with differing abilities to climb and play together in one contiguous space; and a “double vortex,” in which kids can stand and spin.