It has been a long road of fundraisers and campaigning, but at the end of the day on Sunday, June 1, Kelley Park in Ballston Spa had a brand new playground built and paid for by members of the community.
There is still some minor work to be done on the playground like putting lettering on the pair of fire trucks that represent the village's two fire departments but thanks to two years of effort by Friends and Neighbors of Ballston Spa (FANs) it is now open for use.
The community group started the project over three years ago when a group of parents realized the need for a public playground in the village. Village officials agreed, but also said there simply weren't funds for the project.
Normally that would be the end of the matter, but FANs decided to take matters into their own hands, securing permission to build at Kelley Park from the village and embarking on a journey to raise the $180,000 necessary to make the dream a reality.
They started with a garage sale and then moved forward. In the end, the group held fundraisers at area businesses, sold personalized pickets for the park's fence and secured grants to bring them to their goal.
A variety of area businesses provided monetary donation, materials and assistance in constructing the playground.
"There were so many people who reached out," said FANs' volunteer organizer Shannon Hansen. "I keep feeling astounded because the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Whatever people could give and whatever time or skill they could give they did, and it all came together."
Making a sizable contribution to that end on Friday, May 30, was Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, who presented FANs with a $20,000 check at the building site.
"I can't think of a better investment than to give these kids this playground," Tedisco said. "This shows why we have the highest quality district in the state of New York."