Now that the dilapidated old Joey's Park in Belmont was demolished and cleared last month, local residents are preparing to embark on a nine-day community-wide build to construct a sparkling new playground at the same site.
Hundreds of volunteers will begin building the new Joey’s Park playground Friday during a three-day pre-build phase, following a month of work by professional contractors to prepare the site.
“The prep work has been both intense and essential," said Diane Miller, an architect and co-chair of the Friends of Joey’s Park. “Now we are ready for the hundreds of volunteers of all skill levels who will have the chance to help make the new Joey’s Park a reality.”
The park, originally built in 1989 in the memory of a local boy who died at 12 years old from cystic fibrosis, closed briefly in 2011 after a safety review raised concerns, and reopened on a temporary basis only after some play equipment was removed.
Now, community members are using funds that they have been raising to renovate the playground in an old-fashioned community barn-raising. The new playground, located on Cross Street in Belmont, will maintain both the castle-like feel of the old play structure and the park’s natural elements, the group's officials said.
This weekend, organizers will host the pre-build phase: from Friday through Sunday. Community volunteers will place the posts for the new play structure and build several site features such as benches, tables, a deck and pergola.
“There’s a good deal of work that needs to be completed before we can actually begin to build,” Miller said.
Hundreds of volunteers are slated to complete the project during a six-day stretch from Wednesday, Oct. 9 through Columbus Day, which is Monday, Oct. 14, organizers said.
Still, the group is always looking for locals to help complete the new playground by the quickly-approaching deadline.
Miller said volunteers can pick a shift convenient to them -- either morning, afternoon, or evening -- and participants can help build, or they can be put to work manning registration, dispensing tools, distributing food, or babysitting at the "kids room," which will be open to children aged 4 and older throughout the build.
Volunteers must be aged 14 and up to help on the work site, organizers said.
Students can earn community service hours working on the build, organizers said, and those who are aged 10 to 13 years old can help prep the wood next to the work site this weekend.
Families with children aged 4 and older are also invited to help spread wood chips across the playground area on Oct. 14, the last day of the build.
“There’s a job for everyone and we encourage everyone to be part of this community-wide experience," Miller said.
The whole community is invited to celebrate the completion of the playground on Oct. 14 at 4 pm.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org