WATERVILLE — Volunteers in the city’s South End have a vision of a renovated Green Street Park that offers not only walking, biking and wheelchair accessibility, but also fitness stations where people of all ages and abilities may work out and improve their health and well-being.

To that end, members of the South End Neighborhood Association, led by Jackie Dupont, have raised $10,000 toward a $30,000 goal to complete the first phase of renovation to the expansive, circular park off Water and Sherwin streets. The renovation will include the fitness stations.

The city-owned park is the setting for the annual South End National Night Out, where the neighborhood for 15 years has come together to play, eat and socialize. It is scheduled for Aug. 7 this year.

The park has playground equipment the association hopes to improve as part of a second phase of renovation and a dormant skate-park that would be revived as part of a third phase.

Meanwhile, students at the Mid-Maine Technical Center at Waterville Senior High School built the parts for a large, 12-by-26 feet building at the park that was assembled by employees with the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments. The building’s materials were bought with SENA donations. It houses about 80 donated bicycles that are given away each year in a bike swap. On May 19, 70 bikes and helmets were given away. Volunteers staff the bike building once a month to help teach people how to repair bikes.

Dupont, the chairwoman of the South End Neighborhood Association, and member Rien Finch led a tour of the park Friday and explained that they hope to raise $20,000 more before the end of the summer so the fitness stations may be installed. A metal roof will be installed on the bike building, and Waterville Creates! will lead a project to paint the outside of the shop with public art.

A wide path built by parks and recreation workers circles the perimeter of the park and will be paved July 2, Dupont and Finch said.

“People will be able to bike, they’ll be able to walk, they’ll be able to jog, and there will be fitness stations,” said Dupont, who also is a city councilor representing Ward 7. “They will have stationary fitness equipment like those being used in a lot of different cities and towns. You walk up to it and you can do your pull-ups or push-ups or leg lifts or balance beams. They also have different stationary fitness equipment for smaller children so they can do balancing, monkey bars. And parents and elderly people who may be in wheelchairs can do movement exercises.”

It is important, Dupont said, that all generations can access free, healthful activities that encourage connection and foster community.

Finch added that such activities get people outside, and the park is within walking distance of places such as the Hathaway Creative Center and downtown.

Some businesses and organizations have been generous in donating money to help with the volunteer renovation effort. The Kennebec Valley Community Action Program also has been instrumental in helping with the park.

Inland Hospital donated $5,000, which will pay for paving the path; CGI Group donated $2,000; Huhtamaki gave $200; and $7,800 in private donations was received, according to Dupont and Finch.

Centerpoint Community Church has volunteered to build a ramp to the bike building entrance.

The bicycles formerly were kept at KVCAP on Water Street near the park, but because the bike program outgrew its space there, it needed a new permanent home, Dupont said.

The volunteers who will be at the shed once a month include Ralph Merrow, who installed large hooks in the rafters for hanging bikes. He is building a workbench for repairing bikes and teaching others how to do so. The bikes are all cataloged so that if one is stolen after it is given away, it may be tracked.

Because so many new and used bikes have been donated, the bike swap program is able to donate bikes to not only South End residents, but also to people elsewhere in the city, according to Finch and Dupont.

Dupont said the skate park is not being used now because some equipment was not safe to use anymore. Pieces were repaired as much as possible. Some were salvaged, but others beyond repair were scrapped, they said. As the equipment deteriorated, energy to maintain the skate park began to dissolve, but volunteers are targeting skate park renovation as a long-term goal for a third phase of work.

The second phase will focus on the playground, but developing a picnic area and turnaround at the top of the hill near Sherwin Street are also part of the plan.

Dupont said she would love to raise the $20,000 needed to complete the first phase by the end of the summer. The Parks and Recreation Department would assemble the fitness stations, which are expected to last about 30 years, she said.

The Neighborhood Association held public meetings over a few years to identify what residents wanted to see in the park and has been planning the renovation according to their wishes. More than three years ago, trees and bushes were removed from the west side of the park on the hill to open it up and make it safer.

KVCAP is the fiscal agent for the Neighborhood Association. Anyone wanting to donate to park renovation may send checks to KVCAP, care of SENA/Park, at 97 Water St., Waterville ME 04901.

Levels of donations include Green Street Guardian for a donation of $4,000 or more, Community Champion for $2,000 or more, Neighborhood Sponsor for $100 or more, and Neighborhood Donor for less than $100.

A Guardian-level donation sponsors a fitness station, and the name of the person or organization making the donation appears on the station. A Champion-level donation co-sponsors a fitness station and the two donors share space for their names. All donors will have their names appear on all promotional materials and be displayed at SENA events.

The expected cost for each fitness station is $4,000, as municipal-grade steel must be used, according to Finch, who spoke Tuesday night to the City Council about the park renovation effort.

Dupont said she hopes potential donors will be inspired by the fact that SENA raised $10,000 over the last six months.

“It’s an exciting time for the park and for the neighborhood,” Dupont said. “You’ve got these different pieces all dovetailing nicely together. There’s a lot of energy and momentum.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 

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