Fire barn playground is now open

The playground behind Ferrysburg’s fire barn is officially open.

Ferrysburg’s new fire truck-themed playground is open for business.

Volunteers constructed the playground equipment, which cost $104,000, behind the fire barn at the northwest corner of 174th Avenue and North Shore Road. Most of the funds came from donations. The Ferrysburg City Council agreed to pitch in the final $3,000.

“It looks great out there,” said Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger. “We had an amazing group of volunteers help us put that thing together. It was an amazing effort. We had some issues with the weather, but we worked through it.”

The equipment includes 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 ages 5-12, according to Bessinger.

“It was an amazing community project and we’re just thrilled to watch everyone come together to build that,” he said.

City leaders tried unsuccessfully to replace the play apparatus in 2010, but couldn’t come up with funding. This time around, the project got a big initial boost from Peter Secchia, who has owned a summer home in Ferrysburg for decades. The long-time Grand Rapids businessman and Republican Party leader also served as the U.S. ambassador to Italy and San Marino from 1989-93.

Bessinger said the former playground equipment had outlived its useful life. The swing set, teeter totter, slide and sandbox were the original playground pieces 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 wanted to make it accessible for all.”

City leaders sent letters to all Ferrysburg residents and businesses, seeking donations for the new playground. Besides private contributions, they received $3,000 from the North Bank Community Fund, $25,000 from the Grand Haven Area 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 (city’s) 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’d be a nice fit to have the fire equipment,” he explained. “The fire engine piece looks like a fire engine that has a slide on it and steps to climb up on.”

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