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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:06:29 09:00:35

James Wiggins. Program Director, Greater Carbondale YMCA

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:06:29 08:58:31

Heather Murphy. Development Director, Greater Carbondale YMCA.

Community Park wasn’t designed to be ordinary. Community Park was designed to be special.

Board members, staff and friends of the Greater Carbondale YMCA community began phase one of construction for the YMCA Community Park on Saturday, June 29. The YMCA volunteers partnered with the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! to build a custom playground in the new park, behind the Ben Mar restaurant. The construction site was supervised by members from the non-profit organization, Playworks.

The colorful playground set includes sensory development and musical panels. The two-sided kaleidospin allows children to view the world from either side or look at each other in creative ways. The optigear panel is an interactive cause-effect activity. The panel provides a fun way for kids to get visual sensory input and develop dexterity. The bongo panel lets children create music and rhythm with a large and small bongo. The drums create low, resonant tones, providing deep auditory stimulation. The ring-a-bell panel lets kids make their own beautiful music using pivoting clappers to ring four steel bells.

The design includes cascade walls, bending crest bars and three ring climbers with handholds. On the equipment, the four core principles of the YMCA are engraved in bronze; “CARING,” “HONESTY,” “RESPECT” and “RESPONSIBILITY.”

“We didn’t pick this from a catalog,” said Heather Murphy, development director. “We wanted to create something special for the community. We wanted to give them something different. We want this park to stand out from everywhere else.”

Murphy collaborated on the park’s design with her co-workers Mary Pantzar, childcare director and Alice Cavalier, preschool teacher.

“We worked hard on the design,” said Cavalier. “The planning took months.”

In addition to the state-of-the-art playground, Phase One will include a meditation garden and walking loop. The new park will be ADA accessible and connect to the John Street Trailhead of the Lackawanna River Walk. Phase Two of the Community Park construction requires additional funding. The plans include a splash pad, pavilion and a playground for toddlers.

Murphy wasn’t the only one excited about the new public park.

“We’re all here for the same reason,” said James Wiggins, program director. “The kids are the only thing that matters. Alice, Mary and Heather did a great job designing this place.”

“Now the kids finally have somewhere to go and be active,” said Steve Durkin, executive director. “Kids should be able to play outdoors without being too far from home. They shouldn’t have to go all the way across town to the West Side Park.”

In 2018, KaBOOM! awarded the Greater Carbondale YMCA a Let’s Play Community Construction Grant. The community build was made possible by Let’s Play, an initiative by Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP) to provide the funding, equipment and play spaces to help kids and families make active play a daily priority. Through Let’s Play, KDP and its partners say they are committed to helping create safe and inspiring places for Upper Valley kids to learn, explore, grow and just be kids.

The Greater Carbondale YMCA is in need of donations for new classrooms and a kitchen on the lower level. Donations for Phase Two of the park construction are also being accepted.

(See page 13 for more photos of the project.)