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EFFORTS TO GET NEW PLAYGROUND FINALLY PAY OFF

Those with less faith might have given up long ago.

But the Creative Playground Committee, which suffered some setbacks over 3 1/2 years of planning and fund raising, found that if you knock on enough doors, eventually one will open.

Today, the committee will be rewarded for its perseverance when ground is broken for a creative playground at Franklinville Central School.

The Village Board made it possible with last month's approval of a $41,500 loan from a special development fund, which will be added to $14,500 raised through a legislative contribution from State Sen. Jess J. Present, R-Bemus Point, and local donations from spaghetti dinners, penny drives and similar efforts.

The village loan, which the school will pay back over six years, put the committee's efforts over the top for matching funds required to receive a $56,000 state grant for the playground.

After a groundbreaking ceremony at 2:30 p.m. today at the playground southeast of the elementary school, heavy equipment will roll in to begin removing most of the old equipment and preparing for paving and drainage work.

The new play equipment, which consists of several slides, swings, life-size activity boards, tunnels -- some of it handicap accessible -- is made of heavy plastic and will be erected Nov. 10. Completion is expected by Thanksgiving, said Vonni Dickinson, committee treasurer.

Creative Playground Committee members and school officials were disappointed last March when voters in a special referendum rejected the playground in a 302-269 vote.

The playground was a $168,000 share of the $2.5 million capital improvements project, which also would have brought the school personal computers and fiber-optic cable, roof repairs and window replacement, among other improvements.

Supporters at that time said the playground costs would not show up in tax bills because they were covered by private donations, the state grant and state-aid reimbursements.

"I'm excited. I guess it's just that we've worked so hard for so long, and we were let down because the capital project didn't go through," Mrs. Dickinson said.

"We decided we weren't going to be discouraged in any way and we'd find a way to make this happen. We're grateful to anyone who made any kind of contribution."

Costs are now somewhat lower, with a construction contract of $110,000 awarded last week to cover equipment installation, pavement and drainage. The contract does not cover $8,100 in architectural fees, but only $1,689 in miscellaneous costs still must be raised, Mrs. Dickinson said.

Wooden picnic tables and benches bearing inscribed nameplates of donors will be sold to raise additional money, and volunteers are being recruited to landscape the site after the new equipment is installed.

"In our dreams, what we were hoping for is a park-like setting," Mrs. Dickinson said, adding the new playground will be open to the entire community and someday may include an outdoor classroom gazebo built by the school's agricultural students.

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