Funding sought for Swifts Beach playground rehabilitation

Aug 4, 2021

Although she’d known about the dangers of the old Swifts Beach playground for years because her two young children had long been unable to play on the wooden equipment — which was falling apart and frequently caused splinters — it took Christy Patalano some time to take the lead on the Conway Playground at Swifts Beach rehabilitation project.

When she saw an impassioned Wareham Week Letter to the Editor — written by Olivia Eckman, one of the town’s 9-year-olds — in July 2020, Patalano found herself committed to the project. 

For the past year, Patalano has fundraised and worked tirelessly toward her goal: getting the unsafe, wooden Swifts Beach playground equipment demolished and replaced with newer, safe equipment.

Using an $11,000 grant that was approved at Fall Town Meeting in 2015, Patalano sought out quotes and designs from playground companies. 

The town will have to put out a request for proposals and accept bids when it is time to do the work, but the various designs would each cost about $249,000-$257,000 and feature new playground equipment — and some additional elements, such as outdoor fitness equipment, re-topping the basketball court and paving a pickleball court.

Additionally, the town’s Municipal Maintenance Department handled the demolition of the old playground before Memorial Day in May, Patalano said.  

With three potential designs in hand, Patalano focused on funding — which led her to the Community Preservation Committee with a request for $250,000 in Conservation Preservation Act funds.

“The Swifts Beach community is really excited about rehabilitating the playground, and we have the support of the Swifts Beach Improvement Association, along with the entire Conway-Smith family,” Patalano said, advocating for the funding at a July 28 committee meeting. “I think it would be beneficial to everyone to enjoy this beautiful area adjacent to the beach and have the kids be able to go and play.”

Members of the committee seemed largely supportive of the project, though they were curious to know how Patalano’s fundraising efforts were going so far. 

Currently, Patalano is working with the Swifts Beach Improvement Association to raise money via the sale of personalized pickets made of recycled plastic milk jugs. The pickets cost $50 each. A similar fundraiser proved successful for the 2020 Lopes Playground rehabilitation.

“People want their family name on their picket,” Patalano said. “We are getting checks in the mail, and so we are pretty confident that we can get the $10,000 that is needed to do all the additional things that you guys are asking of us.”

Claire Smith, a member of the Conway family who spearheaded the building of the original playground, said they’d fundraised “for every cent” of that project and emphasized that the community would do it again. 

“As to your question about [Christy] raising $10,000 — it is absolutely not a question that she will get there,” Smith said. “Not only in her own effort, but the Conway family will step up to the plate to make sure that it happens.”

After limited discussion, the committee voted unanimously to approve the project for $250,000 in Community Preservation open space funds. 

The $250,000 request for funds will now head to the Select Board for approval. If the Select Board approves the request, the issue will be put before voters at Town Meeting. 

To donate or purchase a personalized picket, reach out to and send checks payable to “Swifts Beach Improvement Association — Park” to P.O. Box 30 Wareham, MA 02571.