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Sunderland playground to get upgrade if townspeople approve

Playground behind the Sunderland Elementary School.  Recorder/Paul Franz

Playground behind the Sunderland Elementary School. Recorder/Paul Franz

SUNDERLAND — For $95,578, Sunderland Elementary School students can have a safer and more modern playground.

The Sunderland Elementary School Playground Committee has requested that amount in Community Preservation Act money to fund the resurfacing and upgrade of the town’s 17-year-old playground.

The playground is located in the rear of the school building and is for grades one to six. A second playground in front of the school is for children in pre-school and kindergarten. This playground won’t be impacted.

The Community Preservation Committee has endorsed the project. Townspeople will be asked to authorize the funding on April 25 at the annual town meeting.

The project involves an upgrade of the surface and update of older equipment, Committee Chairwoman Traci Sackrey said. The rusting metal dome and the high steel slide would be removed and a webbed climbing structure would take its place. The existing plastic slide would remain. The equipment changes would bring the playground for 6- to 12-year-olds up to code.

The playground would also become more accessible with a rubber-tiled walkway.

The major component is the replacement of pea stone and crushed stone with 12 inches of wood chips. New drainage would be installed. This portion makes up most of the project cost, $39,000.

Because the playground was built on low-lying swampy land, problems with the surface arose when water would get underneath the pea stone.

Improving the surface is the first step in the upgrade. Without it, new equipment can’t be installed, Sackrey said.

The total value of the project is $116,000. But the cost was reduced through donated labor and materials from Sunderland businesses and residents. Berkshire Design Group, Inc. designed the project at no cost, for example.

The playground committee originally planned to add a nature path and adult exercise trail to the area, but funds were limited. Going forward, the committee hopes to address those projects with grants.

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