A hazardous playground has forced the West Patent Elementary School Association (WPESA) to raise funds to provide children with a safer space to play.
With the Bedford Central School District recovering from financial struggles, parents and students gathered last Friday afternoon for a fundraiser to replace the battered playground located on the school’s grounds.
Therese Herrero, a WPESA board member, said the wooden playground with a slide and monkey bars is partially blocked off with caution tape.
“The playground is very old and in poor condition,” Herrero said. “Parts are roped off to not use and the wood is splintering.”
Parents are concerned for the safety of their children, especially with youngsters from community soccer and lacrosse teams using nearby fields and children from surrounding community using the recreation area.
Cara Provost, a parent and second-grade teacher at West Patent, said the playground is in unsafe condition, particularly in springtime when bees burrow in the wood.
“The priority is for children to play in an environment that’s safe and fun,” she said.
Parent Ken Diorio added that the importance of investing in the community is to make sure children are safe.
“Our children play on this playground half of the year. If we aren’t investing in our community, then what will we invest in?” Diorio said. “You want a lasting token for the community. Families come and go but this money is important for the West Patent community.”
With a $60,000 fundraising goal, Herrero said parents also plan to help construct a renovated playground. It will include new swings, slides, physical strengthening equipment and other products. A design has not been decided on and the equipment is subject to change.
Friday’s fundraiser offered face painting, food and a gaga court was able to bring in an additional $2,000. WPESA raised roughly $8,000 prior to the event.
“Kids have already gotten hurt on the playground,” WPESA President Lowell Moustakas said.
Moustakas said he hopes more families will step forward to donate money. More fundraisers are anticipated in the upcoming months.
“The district, unfortunately, doesn’t have enough money to pay for it so we’re trying to do it ourselves,” Moustakas said. “So, I’m hoping we get a lot of support.”
The elementary school will provide dumpsters when the current equipment is removed.
To donate via Paypal, e-mail WPESAdonation@gmail.com. Checks are also accepted and should be made out to WPESA, with “Playground” in the memo section, and sent to Jane Lash, WPESA treasurer, 80 West Patent Rd, Bedford Hills, N.Y. 10507. All donations will go directly toward the Playground Fund and are tax deductible.
Sponsors will also be acknowledged on a sign at the new playground.