WESTBROOK — As the renovation of the old sections of Saccarappa School nears completion, school officials are looking at ways to fund the construction of a playground unlike any other in the city.
The school board’s Finance Committee last week met to get an update on the proposed $133,000 playground and how it may be funded.
City Director of Operations Dean Flanagin said $50,000 from school construction funds have been set aside for the project and another $50,000 is being sought from the Cornelia Warren Community Association. In addition, about $30,000 is expected from monetary and in-kind donations from the school’s PTO, school district and parents/volunteers, he said.
Additional funding is critical, Saccarappa School Principal Brian Mazjanis said, because “$50,000 is not enough to build a playground for a school this size.”
He hopes for a groundbreaking in July and to have the playground up and running by the time school starts again after the summer break.
“It needs to be functional when we open in September. We owe our kids that,” he said.
If the Cornelia Warren Community Association funding does not come through, a phasing plan will be put in place so the school will have some sort of playground for the new school year, Superintendent Peter Lancia said.
The playground, designed by Sashie Misner, a local landscape architect, is not like traditional playgrounds.
“It is what is called an integrated play space because it does not rely solely on equipment. It works hand and hand with the landscape,” said Misner, who has been designing playgrounds for the last dozen years, including those at East End Community School and Breakwater School in Portland.
The goal in her design, she said, is to “provide as many play opportunities for a wide range of children and development needs as possible.”
The Saccarappa design Misner created is based on input from staff and students, as well as the Playground Project Committee.
It will have an Elephant Play rope climbing structure with a bridge and slide; a Global Motion spinning structure; hanging bars; logs; boulders; sand area; play tunnel; and wooden benches. Mazjanis said students will also be able to play on a swing set, paved basketball court and athletic fields. He would like to feature space for Gaga, a dodgeball-like game played in an enclosed octagon area.
The school’s playground now is a wood-chipped area with several oversized tires, balance beams and soccer nets and a paved area for hopscotch, jump rope and other games.
The new Saccarappa School playground will be open to the public when school is not in session, much like the building is and the athletic fields will be after this growing season.
“This is for the community,” Lancia said. “It is not just for the school.”
Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mkelleynews
The proposed playground at Saccarappa School will be similar to this one at Breakwater School in Portland, which merges playground equipment with landscaping.