Legacy playground: Let the games begin

Who could have guessed building an accessible playground at a city park with a chunk of the construction cost donated by a local leadership group would cause such controversey and political machinations and take quite this long.

But, finally, the 2012 class of Leadership Nashua’s initiative to build a playground that catered to all kids – including those in wheelchairs or with other physical or developmental disabilities – will become a reality after Nashua aldermen voted 15-0 to accept $170,000 from the group to build the playground at Labine Park.

The project was the subject of years’ worth of testy meetings, planning sessions and countless online forums that were sometimes less than perfectly civil.

There were studies,
counter-studies and independent studies – and more opinions aired during public comment periods than we care to count. Now, finally, the job is done – except for actually building the park.

And we say kudos to the Leadership Greater Nashua Class of 2012 who went above and beyond what was asked of them when they joined a Chamber of Commerce program designed to nurture a new crop of leaders for the city. The program culminates with each class taking on a project that will in some way benefit the city.

A playground had to seem like a home run until a hailstorm of concerns about this location and that location and the cost derailed efforts to build the playground at either of two spots in Greeley Park in the city’s north end. That idea was eventually abandoned last fall, mostly thanks to neighbors’ resistence and a study that determined it would cost $500,000 to build at Greeley.

Labine Park, it turns out, is a better spot than ever. The park already needs some work and it is close to Fairgrounds Middle School and Fairgrounds Elementary School.

The group’s $170,000 donation comes with a couple of strings attached. One requires that someone from the Leadership Nashua group be involved in the design process of the park, the other that the donation shrinks by $15,000 if it isn’t completed by Dec. 12.

Smart move by the group, given how its original vision has changed since they brought forward the proposal and how long it took to get to this point.

And the price is right, as well, about half of the Greeley Park construction. Mayor Donnalee Lozeau estimates it will take $275,000 to finish the playground and the city has already set aside $75,000, leaving $30,000 to be raised from somewhere.

Given how hard and long a dedicated group of volunteers worked on a project to give children in their city a comfortable and safe place to play, we hope that’s done quickly and with no more public hearings, public comments and controversy.

Eric Brand, project leader for the Legacy Playground Project, didn’t have a lot to say Tuesday when aldermen finally voted to move forward with the project so he was succinct.

"I’m speechless tonight. This has been a long journey," Brand said. "We’ve been through a lot of things to make this a reality. Thank you very much."

Speaking for the countless numbers of future children who will happily avail themselves of that playground: "No. Thank you!"