ATHENS — A group of kids were running around the Valley Playland on Wednesday afternoon — a common occurrence for children from the Valley community over the last three decades.
While kids still enjoy the original playground, which was constructed in 1994, they will soon need to find a new place to play — at least for the next several months.
The Athens Borough Council announced on Monday that the “Valley Playland Rebuild” is moving forward. Council President Bill Cotton confirmed that the demolition of the original structure will take place “in the near future.”
The new playground will be constructed from Sept. 8 through Sept. 13, according to the borough council.
Lori Unger, who is the president of the Friends of the Valley Playland group, noted that the project got a big boost from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The state agency awarded a $212,000 grant for the project.
The grant will cover about half the costs of the project. The Friends of the Valley Playland have raised around $100,000 and will be counting on another $100,000 of in-kind contributions — such as work from the borough and volunteers helping out.
“Once the demolition is done, we will be working over the next nine months to gather the supplies we need, build the volunteer database, continue our fundraising efforts with a goal date of September for the build,” said Unger.
The new playground will feature everything from the normal slides, see-saws, monkey bars and swing sets to a rock wall, bouncy bridge, challenge bridge and a zip line, according to plans given to the Morning Times.
“The design is already there. It’s the same look and feel with the castle theme, but we are going from a pressure treated material to a more durable (material),” said Unger.
Unger, an Athens Borough resident, believes it was important to keep the Valley Playland alive for decades to come.
“That has such heavy traffic over there, I can’t imagine what kids would do if it wasn’t replaced,” said Unger. “It’s just about taking the playground and getting it ready for the next generation.”
In order to get that done, Unger and her group will be working hard over the next several months to get ready for the rebuild in September.
“I’m the general coordinator of the project, but we also need someone to step up and lead when it comes to fundraising, building a volunteer database and we (need) someone to lead the food committee. You don’t think about it, but when you have hundreds of volunteers over there every shift, three shifts for five days, you also have to provide food, so someone has to lead that committee,” she said. “It’s all about building the committees that really are the foundation to executing the project.”
If you would like to donate funds or volunteer your time for the project, contact the Friends of the Valley Playland at email@example.com or call Lori Unger at 717-433-0439.