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New playground ready for city kids

June 20, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Within the shadow of Christ's Reformed Church in Hagerstown, more than 20 neighborhood children living in seven apartments have had to play on land filled with trash and broken glass.

"We saw that they had no place nice to play so we came up with a plan," said Pastor Don Stevenson.

Thus the Patchwork Miracle Park behind the 140 W. Franklin St. church was conceived.

The 1/3 acre park will be formally dedicated today following the 9:30 a.m. worship service, Stevenson said.

The dedication ceremony is the culmination of a year's work by about 35 people.

The first hurdle was to find out who owned the land. Negotiations are underway now with the Hagerstown Rescue Mission to transfer the property to the church, said Dave Engle, chairman of the project.

"The Mission gave us permission to improve the plot in the meantime," Engle said.

The land at the intersection of Weller and Braxton avenues was first cleaned and cleared to make way for a large swingset, a basketball court, a picnic table with a wooden canopy and other space for play.

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"We looked for sturdy, handicapped-accessible equipment so it would be a safe place for all to play," Engle said. He thanked Doug Stull, Hagerstown public works manager, and Yogi Martin of the Washington County Board of Education for their input.

Shrubs are being planted and a fence will be erected, Stevenson said.

At first, it will only be open during daylight hours since there are no lights back there ... yet, Stevenson said.

Already, more than $3,000 has been collected toward the $6,400 cost of establishing the playground, Stevenson said.

"We got money from three other churches and two service groups so far," he said. "We think we'll meet our goal."

Engle said the park is good for the community and it's good for the church.

"The community needs to get involved in more projects like this," Engle said, noting that government can't always be looked to as the solution to inner city woes.

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