63 Mill Street
In 1993 a group of townspeople gathered together to build a playground park where parents could gather with their preschool children.
The land had been donated by the family of a young mother who died of skin cancer at the age of 29, leaving a 3 year old son. Her name was Sheri Gagnon.
The Committee was formed and the available land measured. The plan was to have at least three phases. The initial phase was to provide play equipment for young children. The second phase for older children, and the third phase to landscape and fill in any gaps.
The Committee selected a play unit that provide some 14 play events, it was made out of redwood and yellow plastic. It provided a metal arch, tunnel, turn bar, fire pole, steering wheel, bubble wall, tire wing, 90 degree poly slide, tube slide, chin bar and handicap accessibility. Also included in this phase was a 3 bar swing set with bucket toddler seats. We also included picnic tables, and park benches. Another addition was building of a wooden train engine, and a plane for children to climb on. The wood would be supplied and local talent was used to build them.
The Committee went before the Selectmen and the three phases outlined and approximate cost. The Selectmen with the approval of the townspeople at Town Meeting approved to set money aside under capital improvements.
In July 1994 the Committee received $8,000 toward the first phase of an estimate of $14,000. Fund raising included sending out letters to area business, camps, individuals; publicity in the Roadrunner, a town monthly newsletter for volunteers, face painting at Fairs; hot air balloon rides at Founder's Day, selling ice cream at Founder's Day; selling carnations before Mothers' Day at the school; and eventually putting up large containers to collect bottles and cans as Maine has the best recycling program in the country.
In September 1994, site preparation was done by Tim Wing, at reduced cost to us. A community work day to rake clean the site was completed. On October 1 a work weekend was started to erect the first activity center and swing set. Water had to be carted in by the Fire Department, generators had to be used for power for mixing cement, an auger was rented for hole preparation. The ground proved to be difficult with it being mostly clay and the auger was of little use. Lunch was provided and some 40 people by bringing in gas grills, drinks, etc. So many showed their support for the day. The first activity center was in place by the end of the day and the swing set. On Sunday a small group of seven returned to complete some finishing work, erect the tire swing and fill in the hardened cement holes.
The Town Public Works crew brought in sand for under the swing set and bark mulch for under the activity center which was spread by volunteers.
The original estimate of $14,000 was reduced considerably by the following. Local churches were approached for picnic tables. Two were donated by St. Gregory's and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. One came from the Raymond Village Church. The Allen family asked if they could donated a park bench to celebrate Grandmother's 85th birthday. Two concrete supports were used with 2X4 pressure treated stained wood. The Stiles family donated a park bench in memory of deceased parents. Trees were solicited from Lucas Tree Service and O'Donald Nursery and Whitney Tree Service. Terry Traver from Whitney Tree Service also let us use his back hoe for site work and Terry planted the trees for us.
During the winter, Jerry Scripture and John Odum built a plane made out of cedar planking which came on site in the spring. Paul Follensbee and Eileen Stiles built the engine of cedar planking for the start of a wooden train that spring. Tim Pomerleau donated a playhouse built by Daniel Leeman. Two sandboxes were built by Felicia Cummings and her father in memory of a young daughter.
The next phase came in July of 1996 when another $8,000 was received from the town. The additional $4,000 needed was raised mainly by the bottle and can recycling program. A larger colorful activity center geared for older children with a 7 foot slide, belt bridge, 18 foot track ride, corkscrew pole, chain ladder, etc. was ordered and put up with the help of two crews from the Windham Correctional Institution. The Maine Telephone Company came in with their telephone pole auger and dug holes that had been laid out by a team. Paul Follansbee directed the operation with the help of Ross Wisutskie, Eileen Stiles and the men from the correctional institution. The work was completed in two days. Cement was donated by Silver Ridge Homes and P & K Sand & Gravel. The extra dirt was moved by hand away from the site. Bark mulch was hauled in by the town and was spread by students and parents of Mrs. Mirone's fifth grade class.
The final phase will be completed in two years with the final money of $8,000 from the town being matched by fund raisers to add on to the present activity center. It is hoped that two small shade covers for picnic tables will be built in addition to adding cars on to the train. The Resource Room at the local school has taken on being creative to the little playhouse to give it a personality. Landscaping will be done and more trees added to complete the project.