Bids for new playground equipment in George H.P. Smith Park came in higher than expected, and Lewes Parks and Marina Administrator Alison Kirk is seeking the public’s help to raise the remaining funds.
The park, adjacent to Blockhouse Pond behind the Lewes School, is the city’s largest public park and home to the Historic Lewes Farmers Market, Lewes National Night Out and other community events.
Two wooden playground structures more than 20 years old were removed recently after they were found to be in poor condition by a certified playground inspector.
Kirk secured a $20,000 match grant from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to replace the equipment. The city agreed to match the $20,000. DNREC then added $3,000, which Lewes is not required to match. The city also received about $6,000 in donations from various organizations, such as the Historic Lewes Farmers Market, the Lewes Lions Club and Festival of Cheer.
The estimate to purchase and install the equipment is $59,600. Not included is an additional $3,500 for engineered mulch in the playground area.
The new playground structure is intended for children up to 12 years old. It features two slides, several areas to climb and a tunnel. There will be an ADA-accessible platform, Kirk said, and there are plans to add a ramp to get into the playground area. It is expected to last 10 to 15 years.
Kirk worked for several months to find the right playground features, polling parents at the playground and those visiting the farmers market. She then shared her findings with the parks and recreation commission, and put the project out to bid.
If Kirk can secure more funds, she said, she’d like to move forward with a second and possibly third phase. The second phase would be a swing set, estimated at about $13,000. The third phase would be a pavilion that could serve as shelter or a place to have birthday parties or other social events. The pavilion is estimated between $25,000 and $50,000; Kirk said it likely would be in the $30,000 range.
The playground is one of two on city property; the other at Canalfront Park is geared toward younger children.
The goal is to have the new playground equipment installed before the first Historic Lewes Farmers Market of the season, set for Saturday, May 4.
Anyone interested in donating is asked to send a check payable to City of Lewes to: Attn: Alison Kirk, P.O. Box 227, Lewes, DE 19958. All donations are tax-deductible.
Friends group in the works
A Friends of George H.P. Smith Park organization may be in the works.
The park is administered by the City of Lewes with two parks and recreation commissioners overseeing it.
The park was created to showcase nature, and native flora and fauna. It’s also a popular place for many walkers, joggers and dogs with their owners.
As nature has flourished, nearby residents have found the park needs more maintenance than the city’s annual budget can provide. The Friends group would like volunteers to come forward a few times a year with gardening tools to help with clearing non-native plants, tree saplings and weeds. The group would also like to establish native perennial flowers. The goal is to keep the park a jewel.
Anyone interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 302-645-1845.