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It took 12-year-old Amanda Amidon and more than 20 other villagers to raise new playground equipment this weekend in Sloan's Wrazen Park.

"Finally, people will recognize that this is a park -- not a wasteland," Amanda said Sunday as she watched children climb and slide on the new, multi-unit "Gametime" play structure.

Erected Saturday by Sloan residents and officials who volunteered for 12 hours, the colorful new equipment is the first big improvement to the park in two decades.

"We're glad it's happening -- this park has been pretty much deserted," said Amanda's brother, Jonathan, 10.

Sloan Mayor Kenneth A. Pokorski said the job still requires putting in 10 to 15 tons of stone filling as well as liner and an asphalt cushion. Asphalt also will be placed from Wrazen Street to the park's playground and picnic areas, to make the area handicapped-accessible.

"We plan to be back next Saturday," Pokorski said of the project, paid for with $11,000 in federal community development block grant funds and about $1,000 from the village coffers.

Amanda, Jonathan and two friends -- Kim Meier, 12, and Randy Graveline, 12 -- helped dig, pour cement, put in screws and throw out garbage Saturday. All attend John F. Kennedy Middle School, except Jonathan, who is at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

Residents among Saturday's adult volunteers included the Amidons' parents, Earl and Maureen. The park is located at Wrazen and Lehigh streets. The Amidons live across from the park, on Lehigh.

"We've wanted this to happen for a long time," Amanda said. "Before, (the village) would just let the grass grow, and other kids would hang out at night and break things."

According to Pokorski, the village intends to watch for vandals at the park.

"We'll go after the parents," he promised.

He also listed other improvements to Wrazen Park slated for next summer, including picnic tables, barbecue pits and repaving of the park's basketball court, as well as regulation modification of the swings and teeter-totter that have been at the park for some time.

Amanda, conducting a tour of the park Sunday, pointed out other equipment and areas that have been at the park for years -- a sandbox, baseball diamond, two sets of monkey bars -- and areas where residents can play soccer and football.

She also demonstrated the educational solar system component of the newly installed equipment -- which she helped to put together Saturday.

Pokorski noted that Sloan's Griffith Street Park has been kept up better than Wrazen.

"I came into office a few months ago, and I have no idea why Wrazen Park was let go," he said. "But everybody pays the same taxes and should receive the same services. This place has needed some attention, so we're taking care of it."

Leonard Szymanski, Sloan recreation director, picked out and ordered the new equipment with Karen Michalski, a Grattan Street resident. She also organized the adult volunteers.

The village originally intended to spend taxpayer money only on the new equipment, Pokorski noted, but found unused federal block grant funds dating back to 1994.

Saturday's installation of new playground equipment was supervised by Gametime Inc. of Alabama.

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