For years motorists traveling on Narragansett Parkway have passed by a degrading, singular play structure on the outer edge of Salter Grove State Park without a second thought. The rusted, gloomy-looking relic possesses one decrepit swing – the other has broken off entirely – and a bland slide whose orange plastic has long faded with age. The object long sat as a sad personification of the inevitability of time, and conjured images of greater memories left behind.
But not for long. Thanks to the hard work of the Friends of Salter Grove, along with a $100,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Management, in-kind work from the city Department of Public Works and the volunteering efforts of local artisans, this downtrodden visage of Salter Grove will be replaced with a brand-new playground, which advocates for the park hope will be a spark to reignite enthusiasm for the waterfront recreational spot.
“The hope is people will see that and they'll love it and people in the neighborhood will again feel as though the park is something special to them,” said Peter Becker, Coordinator of the Friends of Salter Grove (FoSG).
The new playground will include a new core set of equipment including a twisting slide, a large climbing net apparatus and other pieces that will provide kids an outlet to explore their adventurous spirit and expel some excess energy.
Additionally, the project will create a new pathway from the existing parking lot to the playground and carve out space for one handicapped parking space close by. The playground playing surface will be filled with an ADA-compliant engineered wood fiber that is soft but durable, and can be traversed by a wheelchair.
While the grant covers a large portion of the reinvigoration, the Friends of Salter Grove are in the process of writing grants and fundraising to add some finishing touches. One piece of playground equipment could not be included in the scope of the project as originally designed, and a goal of $10,500 has been set in order to purchase and install it.
Elsewhere, the FoSG are looking into acquiring picnic tables and security fencing. They have also partnered with two local artisans – Alaina Mahoney of AM Design in Cranston and Don Nguyen of Providence Machine & Tool Works (which recently relocated to Warwick) – to fabricate customized waste receptacles and benches for the park.
The city awarded the contract to perform the playground construction to Green Acres Landscape & Construction Co., Inc. of Lakeville, Mass. and the city DPW will be contributing $25,000-worth of in-kind labor. The city will also pay a balance of $1,739 for the project that isn’t covered by the grant.
There is no specific date for the project to be completed, but work should commence as the weather improves. Estimates indicate the playground improvements should all be coming together within a relatively similar time frame – Becker estimated completion this summer.
For Becker and the FoSG, the playground facelift is a major part of a campaign to re-energize the local community about the beautiful resource they have nearby, and he said that he was hopeful a new playground would once again attract families to the park.
“We want to see families using the park, young people again enjoying the outdoors in that setting,” he said. “This is all coming together more or less in the same time frame. We're looking for it to be a significant change for people to say, ‘This is special, and we have to take care of it.’”
If you would like to make a donation to help FoSG acquire the pieces of playground equipment that could not be included in the scope of the grant work, visit friendsofsaltergrove.org/donations.