The borough received a $40,000 grant through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to repair and replace equipment in the dated playground.
“The playground needed work. I have lived in Wheatland for over 30 years and the playground has not been improved since my son, who is now in his 30’s, was young,” said borough secretary/treasurer Sharon Stinedurf. “I kept thinking we need to improve this for the local kids. It is something good for the community.”
Stinedurf said the municipality applied for the grant in February 2012 and with an added $20,000 from Wheatland’s reconstruction fund, the borough was able to build a new $60,000 playground.
Brian Foster, support specialist for the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments said the DCNR awards annual grants that can be used for recreation.
“The program funds projects that plan for, acquire, develop and/or rehabilitate public parks, recreation, open space, greenway, trail and conservation areas and facilities,” Foster said. “It was a small communities grant which is based on population. Therefore Wheatland’s application was competing against other small communities.”
The application was a coordinated effort between the DCNR regional supervisor Kathy Frankel, the Wheatland borough and Foster.
“We created the most effective application that would be reviewed by DCNR in Harrisburg,” Foster said. “That combined effort, I am sure made it stand out. That our need of new equipment was warranted.”
The funds will provide the playground with new handicap parking, access paths, a playground unit, tot equipment and safety surfacing.
“Currently, all of the old equipment has been removed, and most of the new equipment has been constructed,” Foster said. “Weather has halted the installation of the pathways, parking and safety surfacing.”
At 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, about 30 local residents volunteered their time and gathered in Beechwood Ave. playground. The volunteers began the playground improvement project by removing old structures, hauling and building equipment, and providing a helping hand for any need.
“The first volunteer day was wonderful,” Stinedurf said. “The community was great, and the volunteers were beyond willing to help in any way possible. It was only 28 degrees that day, and we still had residents eager to help.”
Stinedurf said there is still work that needs to be done, and the borough is planning another volunteer day in the spring, followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“My grandson is already asking when he can go to the playground,” Stinedurf said. “Residents have been calling and saying how great it looks. Everyone in the community is excited. It gives a place for children and grandchildren to go.”
Recently, the borough decided to purchase a surveillance camera for the playground area to help ensure the equipment will not be vandalized.
“We are building this great playground and don’t want people to ruin it,” Stinedurf said. “The borough decided to send out donation letters to local businesses, in hopes of receiving funds for the security camera. Through local businesses and residents the borough collected 75 percent of the needed funds.”
Stinedurf said that several Wheatland businesses were prominent contributors to the playground, offering volunteers and funds to help support the community effort.
In a thank-you letter to the local businesses and residents, the borough states: “Your generosity and community involvement is truly appreciated. This helps us provide a safe, healthy and secure environment for our children to play.”
For more information or to volunteer contact Sharon Stinedurf at the Wheatland borough building at (724) 347-7060.