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Town to consider appropriating funds for playground

Throughout this year, the Amvet Playground Project has raised $25,000 for a new playground at the school.

Now, the Town Council is thinking about helping the organizers reach their goal by using Free Cash from the last fiscal year.

The council referred a measure to the Finance Subcommittee at its Oct. 12 meeting to consider attaching $450,000 in Free Cash towards purchasing playground equipment. The project was one of 23 sent to the subcommittee.

Town Manager Mike Borg told the committee he met with the Superintendent John Antonucci and volunteers and learned the goal was to raise $200,000 for the new playground. Borg reviewed the proposal and concluded this would be an insufficient amount to buy new equipment and meet ADA standards.

“This is a hard project to say no to, but we knew the project would cost $450,000 to $500,000,” said Borg. “This is to meet all the correct standards.”

Due to the town’s surplus of Free Cash, Borg said it could match the required amount needed for the project.

Councilor Darius Gregory, chair of the Economic Growth and Sustainability Subcommittee, asked Borg if the schools would promise to commit to using these funds for this project, to which the Town Manager assured him it would be the case.

“We’re teeing it up for you,” Borg said. “You just got to swing.”

Councilor President Justin Paré lauded the proposal to build a new playground, saying the investment will help children develop skills and give them time to interact with each other outside the classroom.

“This is a big investment,” Paré said. “If there’s one school that needs a playground, it’s AmVet.”

The Amvet Elementary PTO established the Amvet Playground Project in 2022. Cari Orsi, the organization’s vice chair, told the council the school only has an open field and a swing set for children to use during recess. She said the construction of a playground would further help students with their development.

“We held both school-based and community based fundraisers,” Orsi said. “We have raised over $25,000 in our fundraisers.”

While the Town Council seemed likely to support this transfer of free cash, Councilor Andrea Slobogan asked about whether the Roosevelt Elementary School would receive funding for a playground as well.

Borg said it is likely that a plan to help Roosevelt will be included in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

“We think these are worthwhile investments in the community,” Borg said. “It’s something we are looking across all our schools right now.”

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