By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post
The Williamston City Council discussed updating McCormick Park’s wooden play structure at its March 23 meeting. The park is at the corner of Putnam and High streets. The city plans on working with the Williamston Sunrise Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Williamston and the Williamston Area Beautification Fund to pay for the project.
According to Scott DeVries, community development director of five years, in order to get the best results the city and the nonprofit organizations will bring in a company that specializes in children’s playgrounds. The company is called Leathers & Associates and according to their website they concentrate on custom designed outdoor play spaces that reflect the imagination of children.
DeVries said Leathers & Associates will be coming to do an overall safety inspection of the structure, which was originally built in 1996. The company will discuss adding new apparatuses to replace broken pieces. It will also give options for new concepts that could be added to the playground.
To help offset the costs of bringing in Leathers & Associates, the Williamston Area Beautification Fund plans on holding a raffle fundraiser. According to Earl Wolf, chairman of the Williamston Parks and Recreation Commission for five years, this idea came from local parents. They needed a nonprofit organization to be a part of the raffle to get a license according to state law. This is where the Williamston Area Beautification Fund came in. During Monday’s meeting the council approved the fund as a legitimate group, moving the raffle effort forward. The next and final step will be to submit an application for the raffle to the state.
Wolf said ticket sales will occur in May or June with the drawing taking place shortly after. The raffle could bring in $20,000 to $30,000, with all profits going toward the restoration of McCormick Park’s play structure.
“The raffle is the effort to enhance the current structure and get it back into top shape without costing the city too much money,” Wolf said. “There are already some really high-ticket items lined up like cars, lawn tractors and things like that, so it will be a good fundraiser.
“It is important to get the playground experts out here to tell us what kids today dig. Leathers & Associates does it every day all over the country and will ensure we get the first-rate stuff that people will really like and the kids will use.”
An extra incentive to buy a raffle ticket is that they will be tax deductible because they are being sold through a nonprofit organization; therefore purchasing a ticket is considered a donation. Mayor Noah Belanger says he looks forward to bringing his grandchildren to the updated play structure and hopes community members will do the same.
“Parks are important to the community because they are a way for young families to get together and be in a safe place. I helped build the original play structure in McCormick Park back in the ’90s and am happy it is being updated,” said Belanger. “It’s just a great place that brings people together.”
The council members also discussed amending the city charter at the March 23 meeting. In addition, staff reports from Police Chief Bob Young and Community Development Director Scott DeVries were heard. Neither official had any news to report, but assured no news was good news for the time being. The meeting adjourned shortly before 8 p.m.
The next Williamston City Council meeting will occur April 13 at 7 p.m. inside city hall.