Just about time to start playing around on Sweeney Street

CONTRIBUTEDVolunteers set up some of the support structures for the new playground in late July. The playground will officially open to the community on Wednesday. 

After being constructed by members of the community last month, the city of North Tonawanda will hold a grand opening for its new Mayor's Park playground this week.

The opening ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Mayor's Park, located on Sweeney Street near the intersection of DiMatteo Drive.

Following a short ribbon-cutting ceremony, local children will be invited to participate in the playground's opening day festivities, which includes food and activities. The playground was funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and the BlueCross BlueShield of WNY and was built via the Build it With KaBOOM! program, which aims to help communities construct playgrounds.

The city will be installing poured rubber safety surfacing over the next week ahead of the big opening. 

"We have many play spaces in our city," said Alex Domaradzki, director of the North Tonawanda Department of Youth, Recreation and Parks. "However, this area of the city has been underserved in regards to outdoor playspaces for kids and families. This particular  location met all the criteria regarding site location, servable demographic, etc., which helped us get the grant."

The playground design process began earlier this year when local children were invited to create drawings of what sort of playground they'd want to see. The drawings were submitted to local adults, who compiled them into a design which was submitted to KaBOOM! project managers, who came back with three final design options for community members to chose from. 

On July 27, more than 150 community members assembled to construct the playground after volunteers spent the previous four days preparing for the installation by setting up support structures. The result was a 5,000 square-foot playground, accessible to children of all ability levels. 

"It’s amazing to watch a community rally together and help be a part of something that will promote healthy play and help engage families and children for generations to come," Domaradzki said. 

In addition to the funding from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and BlueCross BlueShield, other members of the community, local businesses and organizations contributed additional funds to the project, along with the city government. This allowed the city to match a portion of the grant, with excess contributions being used to establish a maintenance fund for the playground.

For questions or inquires about the project or the grand opening, contact alexd@northtonawanda.org or call the Recreation office at 695-8520.

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