New Playground in the Works
As seen in the RiverEast…
by Karla Santos
The 1995-built playground at the Colchester RecPlex is expected to be replaced in May, thanks to a fundraising campaign held by the Parks and Recreation Department and donations from a local business – InCord. According to Erica Piekarski, sales manager for InCord’s Netform Play Division and NetPlay USA, this playground will be special because it will allow children to improve their imagination, hand-eye coordination, balance and independence. “It really strives for an independent play as opposed to the normal, classic playground,” she said.
Piekarski noted the playground Colchester has now doesn’t encourage children to use their imagination. “It won’t be like any other playground anywhere near Colchester,” Tiffany Quinn, recreation director for the town of Colchester, said. Among the playground elements donated by InCord are a spinner, swings, nests, climbers, an original freedom glider, a bouncer and an obstacle course. Piekarski said some of these items are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved so children with physical disabilities will also get a chance to play in this playground. “I love it and I wish they could have done it sooner,” Piekarski said of the joint efforts. According to Quinn, the town and InCord – a local material handling equipment supplier – have been working together for a few years. She said two years ago, InCord donated two new pieces of playground equipment, “which the kids love.” Since then, the town has been working on adding new playground equipment. Quinn noted that the current playground in town was installed about 26 years ago. “It’s outdated; we can’t get replacement parts if we need to fix it, so we can’t make repairs on it,” Quinn explained. “It’s just time to replace the whole thing”
She praised InCord for generously working with the town to donate playground equipment. She stressed that because of InCord’s help, the town will be able to remove all the old playground equipment and replace it with new equipment. “We couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “We are so happy to work together with them.”
She said the efforts are not only beneficial to the town but to InCord as well. InCord has been in Colchester for about 13 years. Piekarski said InCord always worked closely with a German company called Huck Seiltechnik, and about three years ago, the two companies partnered to create a joint venture, a playground equipment supplier called NetPlay USA. Huck and InCord each own 50% of Net-play USA. One of InCord’s benefits of working with the Colchester Parks and Recreation Department is to have their own product installed locally, instead of having the town bring in equipment from another state, Piekarski said.
She said another way the company benefits from donating the equipment is that they can use the effort as marketing material. “We can use photos of the product itself for our marketing material,” Piekarski said. “So it’s mutually beneficial to get our stuff out there.” She said the effort would “probably be of tremendous help for the taxpayer and a tremendous awesome play element for the children.” Quinn agreed and noted that this playground is saving the taxpayer about $250,000 because of the donations from InCord and the fundraiser the town is running.
This fundraiser is being run to purchase “a few more pieces” of playground equipment in addition to what’s being donated, Quinn said.
Part of the fundraising campaign is “Colchester Unplugged,” which is taking place on the weekend of April 24. Colchester Unplugged encourages families to get off their digital devices and take part in the list of activities the town will be providing on that weekend. Businesses involved in those activities will be donating a portion of the proceeds towards the playground.
For more on Colchester Unplugged, visit www.colchesterct.gov/youth-social-services/pages/colchester-unplugged.
To donate toward the completion of the play-ground, people can go to the Parks and Recreation Department website at www.colchesterct. gov/recreation-department or call 860-537-7297.
NetPlay USA is excited to announce Colchester is the first recipient of the Ed Ritz Gift of Play Award.