By David Kapitan
The community built playground located at Lester Park has been a staple of the Wills Point area since it was constructed in 2007.
Over the years, thousands of parents and children have taken advantage of the site, enjoying the fresh air and various forms of entertainment available at the site.
The community playground, initially the brainchild of Jeff Pennington, originally cost $115,000. Many fund raisers and events where held, eventually raising approximately $65,000 of the startup cost.
The remaining balance of $50,000 was obtained via a 10-year loan that currently lacks two payments, or close to $10,000, to be paid in full.
In recent years, the board responsible for the playground has seen its membership dwindle, limiting the number and types of fundraising efforts that could be launched.
As a direct result, payments of the loan and maintenance of the facilities has become increasingly difficult.
For the last three years, the city of Wills Point has paid a portion of the yearly note. Other organizations, notably Keep Wills Point Beautiful, have also stepped in to the help with fundraising for the playground.
Julie Addison, one of the two remaining members of the board (along with Pennington), noted, “I’m so glad that we have something like the playground in our community. I think that, over time, people just saw the playground and forgot that the equipment isn’t fully paid for. I’m not trying to say poor us, because there have been a lot of people that have stepped up and helped with the playground over the years.”
Pennington added that routine maintenance on the playground has also been a costly affair, specifically the specially engineered wood fiber that is put on the floor of the playground facility, and the sealant used on wood decking of the playground’s structures.
Compounding the years of use and natural wear that comes from the unpredictable Texas weather has been a rise in vandalism.
In recent years, Pennington noted that vandalism to the equipment at the park has risen years. Pennington stated, “There was a shovel broken and several of the bridges on the playground have been damaged.”
Addison and Pennington are hopeful that upcoming fundraising events, notably the car show at April’s Bluebird Festival, could go a long way towards clearing the remaining balance owed on the playground equipment.
Addison also noted that one of the park and playground’s signature events, the annual Easter egg hunt, is on the schedule for this year. The hunt will be conducted in collaboration with the Stone Point Church.
Those wishing to help donate time or money to the playground board can contact Jeff Pennington or Julie Addison at 972-345-0345.
Group Working To Pay Off, Maintain Local Playground
By David Kapitan