Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Playground project needs help

Time, tools and money sought

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON - Students, parents and community members are making their homestretch pleas for money, time and tools to build a playground at Sixth District Elementary.

        About 2,000 volunteers, $40,000 and 101 different tools are still needed for the project, set to go up in three weeks.

        “The parents, the community, the businesses, they have all responded,” said Michael Bourg, chairman of the project's fund-raising committee and a community development specialist for the Covington Community Center. “We still need more, but it's been really heartening.”

        Students from Sixth District and Holy Family School teamed up with Leathers and Associates, an architecture firm in Ithaca, N.Y., last fall to design the Maryland Millennium Playground for the Austinburg and Wallace Woods neighborhoods.

        The architects will lead crews of volunteers to build the playground in five days, starting May 30 rain or shine, on a grassy, fenced lot next to Sixth District on the corner of 18th Street and Maryland Avenue.

        Leathers and Associates designs about 100 community-built playgrounds a year. The firm helped build similar projects in Pleasant Ridge, Mount Washington and Colerain Township.

        A committee of parents and community members, along with a children's committee of students from both schools, have led the project, spending the past five months seeking donations and materials and recruiting volunteers.

        “There's a lot of great people working on it,” said Kathy Gosney, project coordinator who works at Sixth District's family resource center. “It's really going to be exciting when the fence comes down and the big equipment starts coming in.”

        From spaghetti dinners to dances to Avon sales, students and parents have been leading grassroots efforts to raise money for the project, while area business leaders have coordinated a corporate fund-raising campaign.

        Plus, organizers are selling $25 engraved pickets for the fence that will surround the playground's tot lot. The project is expected to cost $105,000. About 500 people have signed up so far to help with the building.

        If organizers don't raise enough money or attract enough workers, the playground's designers will have to scale back, throwing out a tower or a slide or whatever's needed to cut costs.

        To donate time, tools or money, call Ms. Gosney at (859) 292-5819.


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