After a fundraising night at the Bellmore Governor’s Brokerage Comedy Club recently, the Let’s Play 11566 committee is one step closer to fulfilling a dream to create a playground on an empty lot on Wynsum Avenue in south Merrick.
Spearheaded by Merokean Shawn Field, the committee put together the comedy club event to raise funds for the planned playground on the Hewlett Avenue peninsula, at Wynsum Avenue and Illona Lane.
After Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney and Supervisor Anthony Santino granted the group permission to seek funds for the park in May, the committee applied for grants through State Sen. Michael Venditto, Assemblyman David McDonough and Legislator Steve Rhoads’s offices.
Field announced during the fundraiser that Venditto had secured $100,000 for the project.
Rhoads said that he would like to help as well. “Building something like this is not inexpensive, and I wanted to find a way to help not just with advice, but with money towards their fundraising goal,” Rhoads said. “To that end, I have applied for $75,000 in Community Revitalization Project funds from Nassau County.”
Rhoads said there are many layers of approval required before funds can be released. If the county grant is approved, though, funds would be available next summer.
“Our vision is a playground for life –– a playground where, regardless of your age or ability, there will always be something fun to play on,” Field said.
He added that the playground would feature two separate play areas, including separate swings, for pre-schoolers ages 2 to 5 and children ages 5 to 12.
Estimates are that the playground could cost as much as $300,000 to build on the three-acre lot.
“The engineering group designing the park is designing it to allow the park to be built in phases in the event that it needs to be,” Field said. “It appears that the full cost of the park will be closer to $250,000.”
Field formed the committee in the early summer of 2015 after he, along with family members, neighbors and friends, found no parks near their homes on the Hewlett Avenue peninsula. “It’s frustrating to have to drive sometimes all the way to Bellmore to go to East Bay Park or North Merrick to Fraser Park,” he told a large crowd at a SMCCA meeting last November. “There’s an empty lot in our neighborhood, and it’s completely useless there. It’s just sitting there.”
Joe Baker, the SMCCA president, said that he is more than happy to provide a platform for residents to voice their concerns and thoughts on the playground. “I’m happy that our civic association provides this platform to residents,” he said. “It’s great to see a positive reaction to the park. I’ve been here 60 plus years, and I think it’s time we give our children and future generations to come a place to play.”
Fundraising would continue, Field said.