Fundraisers confident Cape Elizabeth will support new playground

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Although a campaign to raise $50,000 for a new playground is moving slowly, the committee working on the effort is confident the goal will be reached.

The Playspace for Cape Care campaign is looking to build a new playground for children ranging in age from preschoolers to pre-teens. The playground will be built at Cape Elizabeth Community Services on Ocean House Road, at the entrance to Cape Elizabeth High School.

“The overall vision would be to create a playground that offers the experience for preschoolers through 12-year-olds to play,” Cape Care coordinator Kelly Phinney said.

Cape Care is an after-care program for children in town. The campaign for a new playground came about when the playground at the high school, where Cape Care kids would play, was found to be unsafe.

According to Phinney, the campaign has raised about $2,000 as of Wednesday. A Dec. 7 gingerbread building event brought in about $700. 

“Although our fundraisers have not been very profitable in bringing in large amounts of money, they’ve been successful in bringing attention to the (Cape Care) center,” Phinney said.

Phinney said the committee began “fundraising aggressively” in November, but have been accepting donations since the summer. She said the committee plans on reaching out to local businesses soon to ask for larger donations.

There are no final plans yet for the design of the playground. Phinney said the committee wants to wait for more money to come in before making choices on what will be included.

“We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves choosing a structure,” she said. “We’ll design it so things can be added on (as more money comes in).”

Of the $50,000 needed for the playground, $10,000-$15,000 will prepare the site. Another $35,000-$40,000 will buy structures and play equipment.

Phinney said while the committee doesn’t know exactly what types of equipment it wants, it does know the type of materials: what she called “natural play structures.”

“These are things that are kind of not your brightly colored metal and plastic play structures,” Phinney said. “This offers a different type of play.”

Phinney said it’s important for kids in the community to have a playground. She said it’s good for motor skills and social skills.

“The main thing is that motor functioning for little kids is very important and getting to play outside is good for them,” she said.

There is no time-line for the project, but Phinney said once the committee raises at least $8,000 it can begin to prepare the site. She said more fundraisers will be held in the coming months; the next will be a movie night on Jan. 23, 2015.

Phinney said the campaign is always accepting donations at the community center. She said the committee is encouraging people to consider donating, even if they don’t have a child.

The committee consists of Phinney, Cape Care director Gay Sampson, Cape Care preschool teacher Jenn Callahan, and parents Terri Maher and Tracy Northrup.

The playground will only be available to kids at Cape Care while the center is open, and will be open to any child in the community at all other times.

“We really do want it to be a community-based playground for everybody to take advantage of,” Phinney said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.