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Voters to decide funding of playground equipment Oct. 19

Date: 9/30/2015

EAST LONGMEADOW – The Board of Selectmen recently approved a 21-article warrant for the Oct. 19 Special Town Meeting, which includes several articles for new playground equipment at district elementary schools.

Articles 1 and 3 call for Community Preservation Act (CPA) fund appropriations of $52,000 and $79,000 for playscape installations at Mountain View and Meadow Brook schools, respectively. Article 2 calls for $18,500 for a swing set at Mapleshade School.  

School Committee Chair Richard Freccero said during the selectmen’s Sept. 22 meeting the new playground equipment projects have been on the town’s list for capital planning for several years. This year, the school department approached the Community Preservation Committee regarding funding.

By law, CPA funds can be used for playground equipment.

“The situation we have is that every time we try to bring it up, something else gets in the way,” he explained. “We’re getting a lot of interest from the parents [who] see how decrepit and how unsafe these playgrounds are.”

The playground equipment is more than 20 years old, Superintendent of Schools Gordon Smith noted.

“The two playscapes are the more expensive equipment and more complex equipment to put together,” Smith said. “Those are your $52,000 and $79,000. With this type of equipment you have to match the volume of use. In terms of Mountain View, it’s a school with an enrollment of roughly 302 students and $52,000 was actually the middle range playscape.”

Selectman Angela Thorpe asked if Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) funds could be utilized for the projects.

“I don’t think we’ll have that,” Freccero responded. “I don’t think so at this time.”

Smith said all projects would need to go through a bid process.

“We would need to select the lowest bidder that meets all criteria,” he added. “Certainly, if there’s any funding left over at that point like any capital project we will return [funds].”

\The Mountain View and Meadow Brook playscapes would be built in phases, Freccero said. Through fundraising, the district would construct additions to expand the playground area.