Emma Terch scooted down a slide in one corner of Field of Dreams, followed by her mother, Alexis, and the toddler wasn’t stopping—as soon as her feet touched the mulch, Emma was scrambling back up the restored wooden steps, ready for another trip down.
She was one of more than 100 little ones running, jumping and playing at the refurbished park Saturday morning, as West Deptford officially rededicated the sprawling playground.
“I think this is great for the kids,” Alexis Terch said.
The day was the culmination of a two-week-long—and then some—transformation of the park and its surrounds.
Gone was the graffiti and the weatherbeaten, graying look of the playground, replaced with a revived finishes and new artwork. Families played in a sandbox beneath bright pinnacles, a replacement swing set gleamed in the midday light and new picnic tables sat under a gazebo sporting a brand-new roof.
And as kids and their parents poured through the archway into the heart of the playground, Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo couldn’t help but smile at the turnout.
“This is exactly what we’d hoped for,” she said.
Teamwork was the theme of the day, from the 150 volunteers from Solvay Solexis and Johnson Matthey to the across-the-aisle work by township committee members to see the project through.
The scope was massive—the entire playground had to be power washed and re-stained, artwork had to be brought back to its former beauty and yard upon yard of mulch had to be raked in to fill in the complex, which had been down to bare dirt in spots.
“The restoration of Field of Dreams is emblematic of what can be accomplished as we all as a community…work together,” Mayor Ray Chintall said.
And for at least one committee member, it was a chance to work on a playground he’d run around as a kid.
“It was awesome to be able to come out here and be able to work on this and bring it back to life,” Deputy Mayor Sean Kilpatrick said.
Even after months of planning and hour upon hour of planning, DiCarlo said the work isn’t finished—the restoration came in about $9,000 under budget, leaving room for the possibility of a few additions.
“We’d really love to take that rest of that money—and see if Sean and I can raise any more—and put in another piece of toddler equipment back here,” DiCarlo said, pointing to a pair of sections that used to house some smaller swings and a boat that had become a safety hazard.
There are plans to put in donated lighting and security cameras, as well, which DiCarlo said should deter some of the vandalism that had damaged portions of the playground in the past.
And leftover mulch from Field of Dreams will go to helping fix up one or more of the township’s other playgrounds, though the recreation department hasn’t determined which yet.
All in all, the committee members called the project a huge success.
“This is one of the reasons why I got involved in this—because of these moments right here, to actually know you’re making a difference,” DiCarlo said.
Donations to the Field of Dreams project:
- Johnson Matthey—$45,000 donation, employee volunteers, T-shirts, lunches and a digital video recorder.
- Solvay Specialty Partners—$15,000 donation, employee volunteers and lunches.
- Beyond Painting—gazebo painting and staining.
- United Steelworkers Local 8972—gazebo roof labor.
- Thorobred Landscaping Company—landscaping.
- Joe’s Pizza—lunch for 104 volunteers.
- Zallie’s Shop-Rite—lunch for 52 volunteers.
- Dunkin’ Donuts—coffee and 300 doughnuts for volunteers.
- Affinity Furniture—a park bench.
- The Protection Bureau—three security cameras, installation and monitoring for a year.
- Allstate Power Vac—power washing.
- Marone Contractors—stone dust for the center baseball diamond.
- Eastern Industrial Services—scaffolding.
- Rock Products—sand.
- Gina Hicks—artwork restoration.
- Rachael Robinson—T-shirt design.
- Strano, Schultes, Guzzetti and Hartman families—artwork
- Soccer Post of West Deptford
- Rededication ceremony—Bruster’s Ice Cream, Jack the Balloon Man, Dogs R Us, Suzie Q the Clown and Adam the DJ.