The search for a playground for her toddler son within walking distance of her home has led an Ilion mother to spearhead an effort to fund a new playground for the South Fifth Avenue Field.
“I came with the idea for this project this summer,” said Jessica Arsenault Rivenburg. “Mine is a one-car family right now, and my husband has that car in Utica at work most of the time. My 2 1/2-year-old son loves playgrounds so I spent the summer doing my best to get him to one. We tried Montgomery Street, but that one is in very poor repair, covered in graffiti and really too tall for my little guy. We’d walk to South Fifth, but all that is there is a tiny wooden set that you’d expect to see in someone’s backyard.”
She said they tried walking to Barringer Road, but found playground equipment geared toward older children. “There’s not even a single slide,” she said. “Those options led us to either no playground or take every rare opportunity I got to drive over to East Herkimer Elementary. And I thought, ‘Every child and every family deserves to have a fun, clean and safe place to play within walking distance.’”
She decided to head up an effort to make that possible for those within walking distance of South Fifth Avenue Field.
“Right now there is only that small wooden play unit and a swingset at South Fifth Field,” said Rivenburg. “We are looking to replace that small wood unit with two bright and shiny new units: One for ages 1-3 and one for 5-12.”
She said the units would be from Game Time, the same company that built the playgrounds at Barringer Road Elementary and East Herkimer Elementary School. “I’ve already got a quote locked in from them,” said Rivenburg. “The two units plus resurfacing will cost $36,401.60.”
Rivenburg pitched her idea to the Ilion village board in September. “They love the idea but, of course, could not provide any monetary assistance so this will be 100 percent donation-based,” she said. “People can check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/s-5th-ave-benefit, and can donate online at indiegogo.com/s5thfieldbenefit. On the indiegogo site they can donate via debit card, credit card, or paypal account.”
Fund-raising efforts began Nov. 23 and have netted some $1,100 so far.
“We will also be putting donation collection canisters in area businesses so people can keep an eye out for those as well,” said Rivenburg.