Residents tear down Lukey Playground, new equipment on the way
The Lukey Playground has been a staple in the town’s Weweantic neighborhood since 1982, but with a deteriorating pavilion and a splintered, wooden play structure it had become a nuisance.
On Oct. 7, neighbors tore it down, making room for the new Lukey Community Park.
Plans call for installing modern play structures designed to be accessible for all, a walking trail, basketball court and maybe even an ice rink.
“We really want it to be an asset for the entire community,” said Amanda Bell Smith, who spearheaded the effort alongside Rene Moniz. “It’s meant for everybody, and it will be more than just a park or a playground.”
The Oct. 7 teardown culminated two years of work that started when Moniz reached out to neighbors, knocking on doors seeking support. She met Smith and the two began working together to make the new playground a reality.
At this year’s spring Town Meeting, voters OK’d giving the project $175,000 of Community Preservation Funds. Community Preservation Act funds are raised through a surcharge on property tax bills. The state then matches a percentage of those town-raised funds. In total, Smith said the project will require $200,000. Additional funds will be raised through private donations.
The 4-acre lot is on town-owned property, located between Route 6 and Hathaway Street, near the Weweantic River. Smith said it was neglected for some time with the pavilion in a state of disrepair and empty liquor bottles littering the area.
“The playground itself was in bad shape, too,” said Smith. “You didn’t want to go there with your kids.”
So, Moniz and Smith, both parents of young children, decided to create something where anyone in town could go. New play structures geared towards kids between the ages of 2 and 12 are on the way that are accessible to people of all abilities. Benches, picnic tables and an expanded parking lot are also planned.
Additionally, 1-acre of land is still available that could be used for open space or something more creative, according to Smith.
An ice rink, zip line or exercise equipment for adults are all on the table. For now, playground organizers are looking forward to a dedication ceremony tentatively set for the second weekend in November. Playground equipment is expected to have arrived by then or soon after.
Smith noted that the project couldn’t have happened without support from the town, including Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, Municipal Maintenance, Conservation Commission and the Building Department.
Donations are currently being accepted for more improvements. For information on donating or to volunteer, email: LukeyCommunityPark@gmail.com.