Chesterville community holding fundraiser towards new playground, May 20

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CHESTERVILLE – The Chesterville Recreation Committee has spent the past few months working towards building a new playground with the help of the town and many donations from members of the community. The playground will be located at the David Archer Town Hall in Chesterville, and the committee is holding a fundraiser event on Saturday, May 20 to bring in the final funds necessary for the project.

The idea for a playground began when Patricia Hastings started a petition to see if the Chesterville Recreation Committee could hold a special town meeting to vote in a playground with the use of some of the town’s undesignated funds and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds. The Chesterville Select Board agreed to hold a special town meeting, and the playground project was approved on Sept. 1, 2022.

The board had voted to use $25,000 using a combination of undesignated funds and ARPA funds to build the playground. In October, the committee sent the playground out for bid and they decided to accept the bid for the equipment from Ben Shaffer Recreation in January. By the time the committee had accepted the bid, the pricing had gone up by approximately $3,700. During the annual town meeting, the community agreed to raise the extra costs by taxation.

“We had a really low budget because we didn’t want to raise people’s taxes,” Chair of the Chesterville Recreation Committee Katlin Hilton said. “We really just wanted to get our foot in the door because before there was no Recreation Committee at all, even though it is something that has always been talked about.”

Don Oliver Excavation will be doing all of the groundwork for the playground, and Randy and Melissa Tibbetts are donating for a pathway that will extend from the parking lot to the playground to make it ADA-accessible. They have also contacted King & Sons Paving of Wilton, who has agreed to donate some of the asphalt that is needed to make the pathway.

All of the equipment has been ordered for the playground and is expected to arrive by the first week of June, which has helped the committee with their goal of completing the park in time for the summer. The 48×60 foot playground will include a play structure, a slide, monkey bars, and a four-bay swing set which was donated as a contribution to the playground in memory of Chesterville resident and war veteran John Gee. Two of the swings will be toddler swings, and two will be regular swings.

The last thing the committee needs for the playground are woodchips, which were not originally factored into the overall budget. The Playground Fundraiser will help raise the money to pay for the cost of the woodchips, which have an estimated cost of $3,520. Hilton also stated that the Ben Shaffer company will be sending out a representative to teach the community how to install the playground, so some of the funds will be used to cover the cost of the installation fee.

The Playground Fundraiser is set to take place at the Chesterville Town Office on May 20 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. rain or shine. Bruce Driscoll will be performing with his band No Left Turn, which performs for people for free to help raise money for various causes. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction, lawn games, as well as a cookout and a bake sale.

Harris Septic Services has offered to donate hamburgers and hot dogs for the cookout, and the Homemakers Club is donating baked goods for the bake sale, as well as hamburger buns and rolls.

Hilton also stated that a lot of community members have reached out to help with the silent auction. One of the big ticket items for the silent auction is a one-hour flight on a private plane, which has been donated by Wilton Selectman and 20-year air force veteran. Other prizes that have been donated include a half-hour photoshoot with 10 to 15 edited photos, haircuts from Spruce Mountain Barbershop, gift certificates for local stores, and more.

Hilton stated that the Chesterville Recreation Committee has been meeting every two weeks to work on the fundraiser and the playground, and they have also been considering working on the baseball field as their next project. They would like to add picnic tables and benches for families to use at the field, improve the bleachers, and make it more family-friendly. Any leftover funds from both donations and the fundraiser will be put into the recreation account and will go toward repairing the baseball field.

“We just want to make it more of a community-oriented place,” Hilton said. She also noted because the children of Chesterville attend three different schools, many kids don’t get to meet each other until middle school. “My husband and I thought that a lot of parents could really use this. We definitely are a low-income town, and so parents have to go to other towns to bring their kids to a playground.”

The committee is looking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Chesterville Fun Day, as well as a community day for friends and family to help assemble the play structure.

“People have wanted a playground in town for a very long time,” Hilton said. “It’s been challenging, but we just took it and ran with it and said we’re going to get these kids a playground.”

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