Greencastle park sports new playground equipment

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Members of the Playground Association and Greencastle Lions were present for a ribbon cutting April 18. They jointly funded the purchase and installation of new equipment and celebrated the opening of that section of the park April 18. Pictured, from left: Sara Hollinshead, Jodi Bittner, Sue Miller, Joel Leckron, Sam Needy, Joann Williams, James Kendall, Lon Barkdoll, Reagan Watson, John Rishel, Darrell Miller, Dick Walck, Brian Booze and Richard Wright.

A warm spring day greeted the public Saturday, April 18,  for the opening of a play area at Jerome R. King Playground. The wooden structures which had been in place for 30 years had been taken down in the interest of safety, and replaced with plastic-ware guaranteed for 100 years.

“But who will be here to check on that?” joked playground association president Lon Barkdoll.

His granddaughter Reagan Watson, 5, had the ribbon-cutting honors.

Most of the cost of the new construction near the Omwake Pavilion was covered by a $72,000 donation from the Greencastle Lions Club.

“The old set was donated by the Greencastle Lioness Club,” Barkdoll told the assembled crowd. “It really served its purpose. It is fitting the Lions Club did this one.”

The association surprised the Lions by unveiling a plaque on the tower, the most popular piece of play equipment of the six installed. It contained the Lions logo.

The Lions obtained the funds when it sold the Antrim House. It had owned the building since the 1970s as a corporation, and the paperwork dictated that proceeds go to the playground and Besore Memorial Library. The library received $108,000, which went towards its capital campaign.

When the Lions told Barkdoll in 2013 about the pending funds, he was floored. He knew they had to use the money for something special, rather than for maintenance.

The board took its time.

“We didn’t know how much we didn’t know about installing playground equipment,” he said.

With help from Steve Hemler, General Recreation sales representative and playground designer, they came up with a plan that would serve the needs of all children, including those with special needs. Two swings are ADA compliant.

Barkdoll thanked others involved in the huge project. Dirk Mowen from Ganoe Paving installed a handicap ramp at no charge. Mark Decker from Mark’s Lawn Care tore out the old equipment for a very competitive price.

The association celebrated with a cake and other refreshments, but the children were too busy to eat.