A community came together to rebuild the playground at Menands School, adding a kickball field and replacing the former, bee-infested wooden play structure with new equipment.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, volunteers from all over the community donated their time to build a playground for students in third to eighth grade. The old, wooden playground was razed just before the new playground was constructed.
“We’ve been talking about how the playground had lived its life. Kids were getting splinters, and carpenter bees were an ongoing problem,” said Lorenz Herrmann, a teacher at the school.
The project that started roughly three years ago involved a great deal of research and open discussion with the students, said physical education teacher Bob Collen. “Everyone did research to find out what would work best,” he said. “The kids told us not to just look at a playground.”
While there are swings sets, a rock wall and tetherball, it’s not necessarily a traditional playground. Many of the students like to play kickball, so a kickball field was created to accommodate those students that preferred team sports.
At the same time, Collen said, “Not all the kids like team sports. Some are embarrassed to play, some kids don’t like team sports, and some kids just want to socialize. So, we tried to make sure there was something for everyone.”
The playground came at very little cost to the school because of all the donations and volunteer workers. Parkititects, Inc. reduced prices on equipment for the school. National Grid dug 22 postholes for the equipment to be cemented in the ground. Erno Enterprises donated man-hours, equipment and hydro-seeded the kickball field.
The Saint Rose baseball team worked in two shifts to put up equipment and spread woodchips. The Local 7 Steamfitters and Plumbers Union donated man-hours and tools to assemble to the equipment, and local businesses donated food and drinks for all the workers.
Three years ago, the school created a playground committee and was able to replace the kindergarten-through-third-grade playground in its first year. The committee traveled to other playgrounds to get ideas and met regularly to discuss plans and network.
The playground is open to the community from after-school hours until dusk on weekdays and all day on the weekends. The school is seeking donations for Phase II of the project, which is to resurface the basketball courts.
“It’s a great project and a great community,” said Mayor Meg Griener, who was on site to help out.