In mid 2012, the Friends of Fleetwood Park, Locust Street Branch, applied to the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund for help with the revitalization of their Locust Street Park on the 600 block of East Locust Street, in the Borough of Fleetwood. They applied to have the old playground equipment replaced and when the Borough of Fleetwood caught wind of their fundraising and awareness efforts, they came and inspected the playground. It was subsequently deemed unsafe and all the equipment was removed. The Locust Street Park was left with an empty space where a playground once was.
In February, the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund chose the Locust Street Park as the sole project for 2013. We chose this particular park due to the overwhelming support from the local community and measures that were already taken in an effort to bring a playground to a barren 55’ x 74’ plot of land. Shortly after deciding on the Locust Street Park, we sat down with Andy Cush, owner of General Recreation, Inc. and Chris Kaag, President of The IM ABLE Foundation, and Bob Baumann, their Director of Development. We created a design that met the needs of the community and was adaptive, meaning it would provide an equal play opportunity for kids with all abilities. We then contacted the Fleetwood School District and obtained information on children with disabilities in the Fleetwood area.
On April 15, 2013, we invited the Friends of Fleetwood Park, the Locust Street Branch to meet with us to discuss their application. Little did they know we had already chosen their park as our 2013 project. About 2/3 of the way through the meeting, John Gilmore let the cat out of the bag. They were ecstatic. This group of individuals has been working on raising funds and awareness to this park for well over a year. So, you can imagine how excited they were when we told them were we going to not only provide them with a new playground, but a state-of-the-art adaptive one, and facilitate all the work leading up to it, and make the community build day an event they would remember for years to come. The following week, on April 22, 2013 we sought approval of the project from the Borough of Fleetwood. They welcomed the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund with open arms.
Work on the Locust Street Park began in early June. There was a lot of work involved leading up to June 22, 2013, the day of the community build. We spent many LONG days and nights at the Locust Street Park with backhoes, augers, shovels, and rakes preparing the site. We were extremely fortunate to have Rick Bardsley, the owner of Rick’s Contracting & Excavating provide his services free of charge. Rick did all the excavating work on the playground and for the path we created from the street to the playground making the playground A.D.A. accessible. Mike Spayd, owner of Spayd’s Landscaping was there to help us auger 56 holes! He also donated all the trees and the landscaping materials for the project. Right along side Rick and Mike, were John, Chad, a handful of Gilmore | Henne volunteers, and neighbors putting in some work!
On June 22, 2013, over 300 volunteers converged on the Locust Street Park in Fleetwood. We built and installed an adaptive playground, with the help of The IM ABLE Foundation who provided funding for all the adaptive pieces of equipment. We also installed a new grill to complement the one already in the park, planted six trees, created a flower bed, lining it with rocks that had been excavated from the playground site, built and installed a new park bench, and replaced the hockey nets and basketball nets with sturdy metal ones. After that, we moved 230 cubic yards of woodcarpet wood fiber safety surfacing onto the new playground. That is 2 ½ tractor trailers full!! The kids had a stomping party in order to compact the mulch with the help of our DJ’s, Party Masterz Productions, who also donated their time! When it was time to eat, we had plenty of food and drink. The Fleetwood Lions were on the grill all day cooking up burgers and hot dogs that they donated. They could be seen from all over the park in their bright yellow tee shirts. We also had sandwiches provided by Letterman’s Diner and lots of other food from places all over the Fleetwood area. By 3PM we were finished…and exhausted!
The Locust Street Park is the 6th park the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund has revitalized and the 2nd playground we’ve built from the ground up. It was quite an expensive project, much more so than any of our other revitalizations, but seeing the smiles on the children’s and adult’s faces and hearing the laughter of playing, makes it all worth it. Thanks to everyone who supported this project. Because of all of you, a breath of new life has ignited the Locust Street Park for the Fleetwood community and all of Berks County to enjoy. View photos of the project using the gallery below or click here to check out all of our photo albums on Facebook.
Please support the following businesses that helped make this project happen:
Berks Fire Water Restorations, Inc.
C & S Wholesalers
Custom Cake Builders
Dori Martin Catering
Fiore’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company
General Recreation, Inc.
Lions Club of Fleetwood
Max’s Moonwalk, LLC
Mazzola’s italian Restaurante
Party Masterz Productions
Rick’s Contracting & Excavating