After four years of fundraising, soliciting donations and seeking grant funds, Boyertown Rotary Club members finally broke ground to install a new playground system at the Boyertown Community Park last weekend.
For Rotarian Judy Hunter, who spearheaded the project, it was a vision come true.
“It took much longer than we imagined,” said Hunter. “But it says a lot about the support and leadership of three different Rotary presidents and the members, who continued with the various fundraisers, as well as the continued support of the community.”
The $235,000 system manufactured by Game Time encompasses a 95-foot by 95-foot area adjacent to the existing pavilion near the parking lot.
It features wide ramps for easy accessibility and apparatus for children of all abilities, including an array of activity centers, slides and tunnels.
“It’s an all-inclusive system,” she said. “We want people to realize that everyone can play here.”
In addition to the new equipment, Game Time is installing a rubber-like surface around the area that is durable for wheelchairs to roll around easily, yet soft enough to cushion any falls.
The former playground equipment will be reinstalled with the addition of a new swing set that includes some adaptive seats.
The macadam around the pavilion and parking lot will be repaved to allow smooth access to the playground and to provide two additional handicapped parking spaces.
Nearby, stands the blue and gold tot-size playground system that the Rotary Club also contributed to the park more than a decade ago.
Hunter said they hope to have this project completed and the playground open by Memorial Day weekend.
The dedication and ribbon cutting will be held at 11:30 a.m. on June 12, during the annual Boyertown Fun Days event.
Over the years, the Rotary Club held a number of fundraisers for the project, including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle raffle, golf outings, Monte Carlo nights and basket bingos. The club also received a $20,000 donation from the late Erma Kuser, a former Rotarian.
The community responded with monetary donations and contributions in kind. Berks Products Inc., Gilbertsville; Martin Stone Quarries Inc., Bechtelsville; Mullen Dunmore Excavating, Limerick; Donald Heimbach Construction, Boyertown; Systems Design Engineering, Inc., Boyertown; and others donated materials and services.
Rotarian Charles Haddad secured a grant for $83,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources, which enabled the club to finally go forward with installation.
Numerous volunteers, including Rotary members and their family and friends, Boyertown NJROTC Cadets, Boyertown Interact Club students and others, helped with the installation process on May 14 and May 15.
The start of the process was halted on Friday when Rotarian Dennis Frey suffered chest pains and a heart attack. Hunter and her husband, Randy, started CPR, and Frey was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. As of press deadline, Frey is in stable condition.
The idea for an all-abilities playground was inspired by the late Ally Heintz and her sister, Ashley.
Ally was born with gastroschisis and required numerous transplants and surgeries during her short life. When the girls went to the playground together, there was little for Ally to do.
With this in mind, Hunter contacted Boyertown school officials to see if there is a need for an all-abilities playground and received an overwhelming response in support of the project.
To raise funds and obtain grants, the Rotary Club formed the Boyertown Rotary Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.