Kids Castle – A Cranberry Uniting Playground
Several months ago my husband, Johnny, saw a notice in one of the Cranberry publications looking for residents to volunteer on a committee for the new playground in Cranberry Township.
Having four small children to tire out each day, he knew this was something I would be passionate and knowledgeable about.
About 20 Cranberry Township residents showed up to the first meeting held in September. Some, like myself, had young kids, others had helped organize and build PlayTime Palace years ago. Some were affiliated with the Cranberry CUP and some were there out of concern and curiosity.
John Trant, Cranberry's Chief Strategic Officer, led the meetings.
We started with why PlayTime Palace had to be retired.
There is a lot of emotion surrounding PlayTime Palace—that much was clear within minutes of the meeting starting.
It is an amazing structure, one of the most unique playgrounds in the area. It is a special place that thousands upon thousands of children have enjoyed since 1990.
However, the heavy use and our lovely Pennsylvania weather has taken its toll and the playground is now commonly referred to as Splinter (and Bee) Palace.
Although the structure is well loved and still well used, it is becoming unsafe.
We discussed (argued politely) about the option of fixing and keeping PlayTime Palace. Many of the features are already broken and, more importantly, the support structures are starting to fail—making a future for the playground impossible.
This was hard news to hear.
We all mourned a little bit about the loss of a Cranberry landmark and we shared some stories about our favorite moments there. We all decided that the creative play opportunities of the playground were the most attractive feature!
All those nooks and crannies provide endless possibilities for imaginative play. If you would like to know my favorite moments, they all start with excited kids, and end with tired kids, but are peppered with manic trips across the roads for emergency bath room breaks, young children getting “lost” in the nooks and crannies, me getting stuck in the tunnel trying to grab a wayward child, me killing bees or burning my legs on a hot slide.
I do LOVE the PlayTime Palace, but can clearly see its deficiencies as well. I think that if we all move past our emotional attachment and fond memories of the PlayTime Palace, we will all be able to see why it is time for something new, but just as special and unique.
We knew our role in creating a new, exciting and amazing playground to replace PlayTime Palace was not going to be an easy one. But, the role was important, if not essential, to making sure that Cranberry is the BEST place to live and work.
Although just a handful of Cranberry residents helped with the overall vision and design (to be explained in upcoming blogs) it is now the responsibility of ALL Cranberry residents to make sure this new playground becomes a reality.
We ALL have a lot of hard work and effort ahead of us.
The PlayTime Palace’s last day of service is April 20. Construction for the new playground will be complete by the end of September, IF we can raise $250,000 by then.
A future blog will explain all the fundraising efforts and how you can get involved, but you can write you tax deductible checks to the CTCC (Cranberry Township Community Chest) starting now.
Please check back each week for more important information about our new Kids Castle – A Cranberry Uniting Playground.
Next week, we will explain the creative vision and design process (It was way harder than you could imagine!).
In the mean time, check out the artist renderings and feel free to give me your feedback and comments. I have four kids and can take whatever you throw at me—the good, bad and ugly!
See you next week—Erin McClymonds