While Cranberry's newest addition to its recreational offerings may bring smiles to the faces of most of its users, it brings a tear to the eye of township manager Jerry Andree.
"I actually cried when I looked it. It shows the evolution of our community -- designed by the community. Financed by the community. Built by the community. And it will be used by the community for many years to come," Mr. Andree commented last week.
The new facility, which replaced the 22-year-old wooden Playtime Palace in the municipal Route 19 community park, was dedicated last Thursday.
With three thematic play areas, the handicapped-accessible playground came to be through the efforts of hundreds of people, from those who helped pay for it to those who helped construct it.
Donations from residents, businesses, the Cranberry Township Community Chest and the Cranberry CUP civic organization, the $500,000 structure represents the visions of children from the area who were asked to sketch what they'd like to see in the facility. Some 3,600 students from the Seneca Valley area submitted drawings, then 25 volunteers from the Sherwood Oaks retirement community reviewed the drawings and picked the most popular features for the ultimate design for the structure that was built over five days.
Mr. Andree said the Kids Castle is intended to evoke the progress of Cranberry over the past 40 years, with the play apparatus in each of the three areas selected to reflect the technology and culture of evolving time periods.
The "past" has swings, climbing spaces, rolling hills, and spring-mounted riding animals. The "present" area incorporates the features most requested by the students surveyed, including many of the features that were found in Playtime Palace. The "future" area features structures in futuristic in style.
The new playground also has an adjacent bathroom facility such that users don't need to cross the park's access road to reach a restroom. Also included are picnic areas with tables, benches and mini-playgrounds with stepping stones that honor playground donors.
"This project is another indication of the vitality of our community and our community spirit," Mr. Andree said.
Construction of a new playground at Cranberry Township Community Park -- the township's oldest of its three large parks -- was envisioned in 2004 when the municipal parks and recreation board deemed Playtime Palace in need of replacing. That goal was identified in 2007 in the township's comprehensive long-range plan.
In June 2011, Cranberry CUP announced a $175,000 commitment for 2013. A year later, in June 2012, the Cranberry Township Community Chest, which contributed $75,000, asked for volunteers to form a playground committee, then official fundraising began in October 2012.
Student designs were sought in the spring and groundbreaking was held in April when the old Playtime Palace was disassembled. Construction took place this summer.
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.