Some Rockford playgrounds are in such a state of disrepair that they are in need of a makeover. Four playgrounds will be getting that much needed attention this summer, thanks to a grant given to the Forest City.
“Our kids see a lot of boarded up things in their world and in their neighborhood, and that’s not okay with me,” said Loree Leathers, Principal at Haskell School, at 515 Maple Street. “They deserve an amazing playground, just like every other child.”
The Haskell School playground has been boarded up and unused since 2018.
The Rockford Park District, along with some local elected officials, announced Tuesday that a $370,000 grant will be used to fix four playgrounds, including Haskell’s.
Jay Sandine, Executive Director for the Rockford Park District, said, “I think that it shows the taxpayers that the Park District is an organization that walks its talk. We understand that the community will always take the Park District farther than we can, ourselves.”
Lewis Lemon Elementary will also be getting a completely new playground.
The former Walker Elementary School and the former White Swan Elementary School playgrounds will be getting refurbished.
Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) says new playgrounds will help give children a chance to get outdoors and play.
“Making sure kids have activities, playgrounds, the abilities to have physical activity, to counteract that narrative that they’re just spening their time on the smartphone or the computer at home,” he said.
Sandine says Haskell and Lemon students will start the 2020 school year with brand new equipement.
“This is going to start happening this summertime and [we] will be ready to do more of a ribbon cutting for next school season, when this is done,” he said.
Mayor Tom McNamara says he believes the city’s youngest residents will be happy.
“I know that [the playgrounds] will be well used. They will be another outlet for our youth to play and have fun, and just be kids,” he said.
The bulk of the money is from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Playground Grant, but both the Rockford Park District and the Rockford Public Schools each contributed $100,000.