Groundbreaking held for Chestnut Street Playground project in Souderton

Guests and officials gathered for the groundbreaking of the Chestnut Street Playground project in Souderton. Pictured are, from left, Jeff Gross, Souderton Borough Council member; Josh Shapiro, Montgomery County Commissioners chairman; Jen Ruggiero, chairwoman of Chestnut Street Playground Community CARES; Pastor Jerry Clemmer, Souderton Mennonite Church; and Souderton Mayor John Reynolds. 21st Century Media photo / GEOFF PATTON

Children aren’t the only ones that will benefit from the improvements and new playground equipment at Chestnut Street Playground, Jeff Gross, a Souderton Borough Council member, said as groundbreaking was held Friday, March 28.

The work will replace old playground equipment and add equipment and features that everyone, including those with special needs, can use.

“It’s not just about the kids,” Gross said.

“It’s also about the parents who come here,” he said.

“And the grandparents,” added Jennifer Ruggiero, chairwoman of Chestnut Street Playground Community CARES.

The new features will make it possible for children with disabilities to use the playground, but it also means other family members with disabilities or physical limitations who might not have previously been able to accompany children to the playground will now be able to do so, Gross said.

“They get to get in there with the kids,” Gross said.

A federal Community Development Block Grant administered through Montgomery County is providing $195,000 for the work at the playground at Wile Avenue and Chestnut Street. Grassroots fundraising efforts by Chestnut Street Playground Community CARES and the neighboring Souderton Mennonite Church brought in another $80,000.

Puhl’s Landscape Co., of West Conshohocken, is doing the job after borough council earlier this year approved Puhl’s winning bid of $267,200.05.

One of borough council’s goals is to upgrade and make improvements to the town’s parks, Gross said, but it takes additional support, such as was received in this case.

“With community support, this is how we get things done,” Gross said.

The Chestnut Street Playground work is scheduled to be done by the end of May, Mike Coll, borough manager, said.

One of the fundraisers was a block party in 2012 on the same day as Souderton’s 125th anniversary parade.

A smaller version of the block party is tentatively being planned for a Saturday in June this year, probably on the day before Father’s Day, Ruggiero said.

“We’ll have a mini block party,” she said. “It’ll be a fun family event again.”

The event will also give those who contributed to the playground a chance to see the completed work, she said.

“People can come and see what they donated,” Ruggiero said.

Plaques on the playground will give recognition to the donors, she said.

Spring toys that were removed from the playground were salvaged and will be sold for additional fundraising, Coll said.

Details about how that will be done are still being finalized, he said.

“We probably will have some sort of a silent auction,” Coll said.

Council member Preston Miller said his 6-year-old daughter, Isabel, is eager for the playground work to be completed.

The kindergarten student is in a child care program by the YMCA that is held at the neighboring Emmanuel Lutheran Church, he said.

“On nice weather days, the teachers bring the children down here to play before her kindergarten PM class,” Miller said.

“She’s chomping at the bit,” he said.

“She’s very excited about the new equipment,” Miller said, “as any child would be.”

Follow Bob Keeler on Twitter @bybobkeeler.

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