New playground moves closer to reality
ORANGE - When Jamie Beaudette sets her mind to achieving something not much can get in her way. And that is certainly true when it comes to Peck Place School's playscape.
The outdated structure dates back to 1990 and is in dire need of repair or replacing.
Peck Place School Principal Al deCant said Beaudette immediately took up the cause.
"When I first mentioned to Jamie Beaudette, Peck Place School PTA president, that the playground was in need of repair and we should consider building a new one, she immediately agreed and contacted local officials and playground designers to assess the feasibility of building a new play ground," deCant said.
One section of the equipment would have cost $5,000 alone to repair; school officials said.
"We started looking (at the equipment) … all the holes in the steps were an accident waiting to happen," deCant said.
"I said to Jamie wouldn't it be nice to have a new playground," deCant said smiling.
And Beaudette hasn't stopped working on the project since.
And while it has taken a year to get to the point where the new structure is within sight Beaudette has not stopped working on the project.
Besides finding the right company to work with, (O'Brien & Sons, Massachusetts) Beaudette has been intricately involved in choosing the equipment, working on a grant for the vast majority of the cost ($211,000) and finding the necessary funds to pay the difference ($42,000).
So far $14,000 has been raised. And the balance needs to be in-hand by May Beaudette said.
"We want to begin construction by July to ensure it is completed for the new school year in September," she said.
The state-of-the-art playscape has four distinct sections to it.
The EVOS system is a brand-new concept that will offer endless physical and creative challenges. Additionally, the system is designed to build upper-body strength and core strength. Imaginations will get a workout as well, as there are no prescribed entry or exit points.
Another section is more traditional with slides, rock climbing, circular monkey bars, bridges, rolling slide for special needs and umbrellas for shade.
A third section comes with a se saw that is designed to not hit the ground to decrease the likelihood of injury, and a rope climbing section.
A fourth area will have swings which includes a special needs swing.
Additionally, there will be picnic tables with umbrellas throughout the playscape
All the material used in the construction is environmentally friendly so it is safe for the environment as well as safe for the children. There will be poured rubber walkways throughout the playscape to make sure it is handicapped accessible.
Now that the design for the structure has been determined and she has a green light from the Inland Wetlands Commission Beaudette still needs the go-ahead from the Town Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Selectmen so she can submit the grant request.
She has also begun the fundraising aspect of the project and has, thus far, raised $14,000 through the combined generosity of 5 Guys, Renos Pizzeria, PTA board and Wal-Mart.
More fundraisers are planned such as a Pasta Dinner with silent auction and a children's walkathon.
But Beaudette said she knows she needs help from the community at large to make this playground a reality.
"We need sponsors who will donate or hold fundraisers for the project," she said.
When asked what motivated her to tackle such a huge endeavor Beaudette said it was the children.
"This will benefit all the kids," she said. Right now my dedication is to serve the school anyway I can. Peck Place is my extended family," she added.
deCant confirmed Beaudette's devotion to the school.
"Knowing that she has made a difference in the lives of the children at Peck Place School, is what drives Jamie Beaudette. She is our school's biggest cheerleader. She cares deeply for every child and works with administration, teachers and parents to provide many wonderful programs for our school," deCant said.
Beaudette said decant was a strong motivator to her to enrich the children's lives.
"I do this because I respect Al deCant He makes my job easy seeing how much he loves his job and cares for each and every one of our children," Beaudette said.
Anyone wishing to contribute in any way to the new play scape can reach Beaudette at 203-444-5581.