As many of you know, we have lived in town for 10 years, and spent many of our early days in Sherborn at the Sherborn Playground, down Cemetery Lane. At the time, the playground was beautiful — shaded, enclosed, with fun, unique equipment for the kids. We met so many of our dear Sherborn friends at the playground — and it served as a great gathering spot for birthday parties, community events and play dates for over 20 years. Two years ago, when I was there with my youngest and her friends, it was clear that the playground had reached its end. The kids were tripping on the uneven boards and ground cover, getting splinters and cuts from the rotting wood, and the whole site was filthy and overgrown. What’s more, the site was virtually inaccessible for anyone with mobility challenges. I took the issue to the Selectmen and Town Hall, who were completely unaware of the situation (the Playground is NOT currently funded by the town — it sits on conservation land, and was overseen by a separate 501c3 organization, “The Sherborn Playground Committee”). The town immediately agreed to ongoing oversight of the playground for liability reasons, and supported a rebuild project — provided we were able to raise funds to do so.
For the last 2 years, our small committee of 12 has tirelessly fundraised, designed and planned. We have raised nearly $200,000 in private donations, corporate grants and event proceeds (no town money), and in conjunction with our design firm, have created a spectacular plan, unique to Sherborn, featuring a barn, tractor, Farm Pond steamboat, tree house, 40′ climbing net, spinners — all of it accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Furthermore, the new playground will be a gathering spot for residents of all ages, with a gazebo, picnic benches, and games tables in the springtime plans. We chose to custom build the playground as a community build (think Habitat for Humanity), partly for financial reasons (a $400,000 playground for half the cost), but mostly, as a way to bring our community together around a common project. We have heard from countless similar projects in the area that this is a community-changing experience. For more information on the project, please see our website at www.sherbornplayground.org.
I am sure that you have seen the signs around town, but the 6-day build will take place next week — Tuesday, October 20-Sunday, October 25. Each day, we need 150+ volunteers (no building skill required!) to help on a variety of tasks, from volunteer check-in to mulch spreading to actual construction. There are 3 shifts — morning (8-12), afternoon (12:30-4:30) and evening (5-8). We have amazing food sponsors (Heritage, Panera, Legal Seafood, Old School to name a few) lined up to feed volunteers meals between shifts, some great kids’ activities in the works, and jobs for all!! You must be 14 years of age to be on the job site, but we will have smaller “jobs” for the 11-14 year old set. To learn more, or sign up, please visit our Signup Genius site: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e4ba9a62ca7ff2-build
I know that many of you have older children that no longer use the playground — frankly, my husband and I now find ourselves in much the same situation. And I know that all of our lives are busy. But I urge all of you to devote just 3-4 hours of your week to support this project. A good playground speaks volumes about a town’s commitment to its youngest residents, brings residents of all ages together, and is a source of pride. Grab a few friends for an after-work shift, bring the family down for an afternoon, or spend the whole day with us. You’ll meet some neighbors, make some friends, and build something lasting for our town. I promise that you won’t regret this!
Thank you to all of you for your support to date, and I hope to see you next week.