St. Albans asks public to help revive recreation area for kids

This swing set and climbing apparatus are all that is left of a downtown St. Albans playground that was enjoyed by thousands of area residents. Now a committee is raising $60,000 to build a new, safer playground. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER COUSINS
This swing set and climbing apparatus are all that is left of a downtown St. Albans playground that was enjoyed by thousands of area residents. Now a committee is raising $60,000 to build a new, safer playground. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER COUSINS
Posted June 02, 2010, at 8:52 p.m.

ST. ALBANS, Maine — The town is seeking help from the community to create a recreation area for people of all ages.

The C.A. Batchelder playground at the intersection of Route 152 and Mason Corner Road was once the location of a school and elaborate playground system. Over the years, both the school and most of the playground equipment have been removed, leaving only a swing set and small climbing apparatus.

“It used to get a lot of use,” said Town Manager Rhonda Stark, who sits on a committee that has been raising funds for the $60,000 project since last year. To date, about $20,000 in cash and in-kind services have been donated, though the committee has several fundraisers planned this summer.

The committee has settled on a basic design that includes two modern play structures, one for children as young as 2 years old and the other for older kids. The design also includes landscaping donated by local contractors, wood chips and a new perimeter fence — all of which are aimed at making the playground as safe as possible.

After the playground project, Stark and the committee envision rehabilitating nearby basketball courts, building an ice skating rink and creating a walking trail around two adjacent baseball and softball fields.

“The plan is for more than a playground,” said Stark. “We’ve been saying we want something for ages 2 to 92. There will be a little bit for everybody.”

Though the committee is hoping for more cash donations to spur the project along, fundraisers are also planned.

On Saturday, June 12, musician Gary Knowles of Hartland — who is known as “Mr. Music” — will perform a benefit concert at the town hall beginning at 6 p.m. Knowles and others recently played in the hall and, according to Stark, there was standing room only.

The committee is also raffling several quilts, with a drawing at Summerfest, the town’s annual celebration on July 17, and 500 gallons of heating oil, which will be awarded Sept. 1. Several charity events are planned during Summerfest to benefit the playground project and other causes.

Stark said the new playground will help alleviate a shortage in town of a place to bring children.

“We’re hoping to have something on the site by fall,” she said. “If we had the money, we could do it all at once.”

For more information about the project, call Stark at 938-4568. Donations can be sent to 7 Water St., St. Albans 04971. Checks should be made payable to “Town of St. Albans” with “Playground fund” in the memo line.

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