Article by Matt Cinelli, bctv.org
On Sunday, July 10, the Temple Playground at Kutztown Road and Euclid Avenue was the site of an impressive effort to rebuild the park, which had fallen into disrepair. Students earning community service hours and adults who grew up at the playground – together more than 200 volunteers – spread stone and mulch, pulled weeds and repainted the park buildings.
A custom mural was placed on the south side of the park building, and new basketball courts and swing sets were put up along with extensive landscaping. The volunteers labored over six hours in the intense sun and were treated to refreshments and live entertainment.
The northern Berks community has been transformed by the growth of commercial activity and residential development, while corporate tenants vacated their properties during the economic downturn. Citizens of Reading have migrated north in search of safer, less crowded neighborhoods and better schools. Watching the crowd Sunday was a visceral outpouring of muscle and heart with everyone working together to give the park a dramatic facelift.
State Sen. Judy Schwank and state Rep. Dante Santoni were on hand to share congratulatory remarks and give out awards in recognition of the Community Foundation efforts in Muhlenberg Township. Schwank recognized John Gilmore and Chad Henne as the “favorite sons” of Berks County and observed the volunteers were so enthusiastic that there was little room for another body between the others.
Santoni spoke to the emotion that he felt working to rebuild the park where he played as a child. Reading Mayor Thomas McMahon, Muhlenberg Township Commissioner Randall Madera and Muhlenberg Parks Department Director Neil McNutt were all present to represent local government agencies. Temple Recreation Association President Mike Hughs commented that Sunday’s activity was part of the long history of community support at Temple Playground, dating back to 1969.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne explained that Gilmore is better at making speeches, but Chad did leave the group of volunteers with one message: “This is your playground now. It’s up to you to keep it in good condition, the way you see it today.”
Gilmore, former tight end for Tampa Bay (currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers), spoke clearly to the mission of the foundation. “We are here to bring down the boundaries of city and suburbs. All Berks County communities must come together to create safe and clean parks for our children. It’s not about us and them … we are all in this together.”