Volunteers install playground for ages 2 to 5 at Fleetwood Park: Phase II of park project features spring cars with ties to town history

Volunteers helped install a new playground in Fleetwood Saturday.

Jessie Weatherhold, sixth-grade, volunteered to wash the pieces as they came out of storage.

“I know that it’s the right thing to do and me and my mom like to volunteer and help out the parks.”

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Daryl Faust and Bobby Weidner, playground volunteers and members of the borough’s street crew.

“We can’t get enough; we like what we do,” said Faust.

Friends of the Fleetwood Playground finished Phase I in 2010 with the installation of new playground equipment for ages 6 to 12. Now it was time for Phase II with the installation of playground equipment designed for ages 2 to 5 and topping it off, were spring cars replicated from models manufactured in the early 1900s by Fleetwood Auto Body.

“The one addition to this playground that we wanted to tie in to the Fleetwood town, are these spring cars,” said Tina Hermany, co-founder of Friends of the Fleetwood Playground. “We modeled them and sketched them out from the Fleetwood Auto Body, the old-fashioned car maker, from the early 1920s so we have a Rudy Valentino car, we have a carriage that the Fleetwood Auto Body’s made, and also a bike that they made.”

Hermany said they wanted something different so they went to the Fleetwood Historical Society to find a way to tie it in to Fleetwood. The Society had sketches and pictures made of the cars.

About 25 volunteers, including a couple of Fleetwood Borough workers, high school kids, Watkins Architect, and the contractor, Desko, jumped on the project 7:30 in the morning and had most everything set in place before noon with the help of volunteer DJ Tom Chilton, Party Masters to “Keep everybody motivated and moving,” said Chilton.

“I like watching everyone helping the community trying to help kids, 2-year-olds to 5-year-olds, have fun instead of going on that big playground,” said Connor Letterman, fourth-grade, Richmond Elementary. Letterman’s mom, Vicki, was one of the founders for the Locust Street playground project.

Fleetwood Borough Recreation Board Chairperson Suzan Wetherhold found the different phases of the project tremendously exciting.

“This captures an audience that the larger playground could not so little children from 2 to 5 will now have a place that will fit them,” said Wetherhold. “The swing set phase we have to have done in the next year or so and then we’re finished with our playground projects for the entire community. We just finished our Locust Street project two months ago thanks to the Gilmore-Henne Foundation; they donated that park. In seven years we’ll have all new parks so it’s really exciting; a lot of hard work.”

How does a community project get started?

It all began in a hair salon with a discussion between two women about the condition of the current playground; from there one thing rolled into another.

“I was Tina’s hairdresser and she was sitting in my shop and we started talking about the playground down here and I said, we need to have a new playground. That thing is just dilapidated and in disrepair and we need a new one,” said Dawn Geschwindt.

Hermany went back six weeks later and said, “Sooooo, what are we doing about the playground?”

That was the beginning of visits to playgrounds, meetings with borough council, a lot of research, and pulling others in to help. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources helped to fund the new project along with the Borough of Fleetwood. Phase III, a swing set, will complete the vision.

The Construction

Landscapes Structures manufactured the playground equipment, but then project management was handled by manufacturer representative, Steve Hemler and by Andy Cush, president of General Recreation.

“I’m the lead technical observer,” said Hemler. “You have micro-management over here and then macro-management ensuring that everything is going through. That way we can ensure that the product is being installed as per manufacturer’s specifications as well as safety standards because we’re certified playground safety inspectors as well so we want to make sure that we do this right with the volunteers correctly.”

Meridyth Cutler, architect for Watkins Architect, said once the equipment had been selected, they designed all the surrounding facilities. She said what made Fleetwood’s project unique was how they phased it for budgetary reasons to make it realistic and financially possible for the borough to install and that it appealed to different age groups.

Looking into the Future

“Another future phase is going to be an outdoor gym for adults. That’ll be down the road just a little bit,” said Cutler.

Fleetwood Park also features a pool, a pond, a concession stand, a bandshell, as well as a court area for volleyball and basketball. Future developments are in the works to upgrade the pool.

“The pool was built in 1960 and needs some major renovations,” said Wetherhold.

If you would like to get involved with the newly forming organization, Friends of Fleetwood Pool, please contact Suzan Wetherhold at 610-944-5334 or kswetherhold1@verizon.net.