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New playground plans in works for community

An effort to build a new community playground park is picking upsteam and organizers hope to have a name for the project soon.

The playground idea arose during a community problem-solvingclass project with Linda Kergosien’s eighth grade Quest studentsearlier this year. Kergosien said representatives from variousareas of the community were invited to speak to students and theconcept of a playground/park was a frequent topic ofdiscussion.

“It kind of kept coming up,” Kergosien said.

Dr. Don Doty, one of those invited to speak to students, isleading the effort to develop the playground, which will bedesigned during a May 18 brain-storming session with localstudents. An associate of Bob Leathers, a Harvard-trained architectwho has designed hundreds of playgrounds across the country, willcome to Brookhaven that day to meet with community children.

“They’ll talk about and discuss what they’d like to see on theplayground,” said Sally Doty, Don’s wife. “It’s totally designed bythe kids in the community.”:

Sally Doty said the architect associate will get ideas from thestudents that morning, draw up playground plans that afternoon andthen present them during a community meeting that night. She saidthe playground would be similar to Kidstowne in Clinton, but wouldbe specific to Brookhaven.

“They’re all different,” Doty said about the playgrounds.”They’re all specific to each town and what the kids want.”

To help with the effort, Kergosien said a “Name the Park Day”will be held Wednesday at Brookhaven Elementary. Some of her Questclass students will also meet with students at Martin ElementaryFriday, she said.

“We’ll come up with some ideas and what direction the kids wouldlike to go,” Kergosien said.

After the playground is designed, Doty said the most importantaspect of the project is a community work day where parents andcitizens come together to build the park.

“That will be a huge effort,” Doty said.

The size of the park will depend on fund-raising efforts. Dotysaid developers hope to get a lot of in-kind help from thecommunity and have a fund-raiser such as memorial bricks.

“We anticipate doing some sort of fund-raiser to raise themajority of the money,” Doty said.

Organizers are optimistic about a donation of land in northBrookhaven as the site for the playground. A construction timetablewill depend on funding.

“If our fund-raising goes well, we hope to build in the fall,”Doty said. “If it’s a little slow, it’ll be next spring.”

City recreation officials are interested in the project, Dotysaid. The city will be asked to maintain the playground once it isbuilt.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Hansel King, recreationdepartment manager. “Anytime you can get the community involved inputting something together for the community, that’s an A-plus foreverybody.”

While still in the early stages, Kergosien said response to theproject has been positive with people wanting to be involved.

“It seems like the project is having an impetus all its own,”Kergosien said. “We’re excited about that.”