By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
It was an impromptu decision of two six-year old children from Shelburne to approach councilors during an election question period and ask them to do something to better the town’s only playground.
“Me and my friends just want a better place to play,” said Kailey Wolkins. “We have to drive the whole way to Lockeport if we want to play on a playground.”
Her friend Chrissy Strang agreed.
“I want a new slide,” she said.
While both children ran off to play on what was left of the play equipment at the George Street park, their parents Bob Strang and Cara Hollett kept a close eye on the children.
“No one wants to bring their children here because it is unsafe,” said Hollett, Kailey’s mom.
The two girls public plea created an explosive response from the community and both parents have been receiving numerous phone calls and emails in support.
Strang has now committed himself to his daughter Chrissy as well as all of the community’s children by creating the Shelburne Playground Society.
His goal is to turn the local park into a safe and fun environment for families.
He has researched numerous avenues to secure funding for the park as well as what would constitute a great space for families.
Ideas include new, safe equipment, climbers, swings, slides and tunnels. Benches, garbage cans and maybe even a splash pad for the younger children as well as more toddler friendly equipment would just be the beginning.
He is also focusing on how the park could be used by a greater span of people throughout the seasons.
Improving the basketball court for teens and maybe even creating an outdoor skating rink for families is on the list of possibilities.
“This is really the only sledding hill in town,” he said. “It would be great if families had more winter activities to do while they brought their kids sledding.”
A few years back, vandals lit the slide on fire, burning one of the play structures and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Strang said that he has already spoken to the police and asked them to increase their visibility in the area but without proper signage the RCMP are unable to enforce loitering after dark charges.
“We need signs and proper lighting to keep vandals away,” he said.
Strang also wants to include as many of the Shelburne area teen to chip in on creating the space to help grow a sense of pride in the park.
While he expects it to be a lot of work coming up with the funds for the project, he knows that the park would bring a lot of pleasure to families in the community.
He has already planned some work on the project and is asking for volunteers of all ages to chip in.
“Just for the winter we wanted to spruce up what is there while we wait for the funds we need to do something more long term,” he said.
On Nov. 4 the society has asked that volunteers go down to the park at 1:00 p.m. for a painting and clean up party.
Both Strang and Wolkins are also full of ideas to bring fundraising events to the park over the next year.
Strang said that some businesses in the area have already vocalized their support toward the project.
“This park could be something great,” said Hollett.
For anyone wanting more information they can visit the Facebook group Shelburne Playground Society or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org