Ferrysburg Fire Barn playground a 'go'

FERRYSBURG – The new Fire Barn Park playground is a “go.” The new fire-truck-themed playground equipment for the park at the northwest corner of North Shore Road and 174th Avenue was $6,600 short of the fundraising goal until Ferrysburg City Council members recently approved kicking in that amount from city coffers. The total equipment cost is $104,000. “We're ready to purchase the new equipment,” City Manager Craig Bessinger said. “It will go where the existing playground equipment is, on the west side of the basketball court.” The equipment will include a fire engine piece for younger kids, a climbing wall that looks like a fire hose and a swingset. The playground is designed primarily for kids ages 5 to 12, according to Bessinger. It will take about 12 weeks for the equipment to arrive. Bessinger said a “community build” is planned for the last week of September, but the exact date has not yet been set. “The company will come and show us what to do and volunteers will come and put the structures together,” he said. City leaders tried unsuccessfully to replace the play apparatus in 2010. This time around, the project got a big initial boost from Peter Secchia, who has owned a summer home in Ferrysburg for decades. Secchia, a long-time Grand Rapids businessman and Republican party leader, served as the United States ambassador to Italy and San Marino from 1989 to 1993. Bessinger said the current playground equipment has outlived its useful life. The swing set, teeter totter, slide and sandbox are the originals that were installed in the early 1970s, shortly after Ferrysburg broke off from Spring Lake Township and became its own city. “The equipment is kind of obsolete and we can't get parts for it,” Bessinger said. “We want to make it accessible for all.” City leaders sent letters to all Ferrysburg residents and businesses, seeking donations for the new Fire Barn Park playground. Besides private contributions, they received $3,000 from the North Bank Community Fund, $25,000 from the Grand Haven Community Foundation and $25,000 from the Verplank family. “This is something we've been working on since the first of the year,” Bessinger said. “The recreation commission had a good feeling we could raise the money. We're thankful to the community for supporting this project.” Bessinger said the fire truck-themed equipment should be a hit. “Members of the recreation commission thought it's be a nice fit to have the fire equipment,” Bessinger said. “The fire engine piece looks like a fire engine that has a slide on it and steps to climb up on.” If anyone wants to volunteer to build the playground in September, call City Hall at 616-842-5803. “They can call City Hall and we'll put them on the list,” he said. “When we did the donation letters, there was a box people could check if they were willing to volunteer to help. A number of people did volunteer to help.”

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