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Construction begins on Liam J. Perk Playground

By Staff | Mar 31, 2010

Construction has begun on a park playground named after a Cape Coral toddler who was fatally bitten by one of his family’s dogs in December.
Workers began preparing the land Monday at the Rotary Park Environmental Center, located at 5505 Rose Garden Road, for the Liam J. Perk Playground. Totalling nearly 5,000 square feet, the playground is the result of the efforts of the Perk family, Rotary Clubs of Cape Coral, Liam J. Perk Foundation and others.
“It’s bittersweet,” Henry Posey, spokesman for the Perk family, said.
“We’d rather be doing something else, but with Liam dying this is where we’re at now. So, it’s a good thing. It’s a good step,” he said. “We’ve talked about it and it’s been made public, and actually starting it makes it real.”
On Dec. 22, 2-year-old Liam Perk was severely bitten in the neck by Lloyd, the family’s 8-year-old male Weimaraner, at their home on Southeast 45th Terrace. Liam was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Lee County Animal Services removed Lloyd from the home along with Chessy, a female Weimaraner also owned by the family. Lloyd was euthanized the next day, but Chessy was returned to Liam’s parents, Joey and Carrie Perk.
With the help of the Cape Coral Community Foundation, the Perks created the Liam J. Perk Foundation Fund to honor Liam with a playground in his name and to educate parents and dog owners through seminars, events and school presentations, providing a safer environment for kids and dogs as a family.
“The Liam J. Perk Playground at Rotary Park is a stepping stone to what we want to accomplish in Liam’s name,” Carrie Perk wrote in a prepared statement.
Beth Sanger, executive director of Cape Coral Community Foundation, said about $20,000 had been donated to the Liam J. Perk fund as of Wednesday.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of this in helping the family with their mission of getting this playground done, and their further accomplishment they want to achieve through educating families with dogs and children,” she said.
“We’re thrilled to help support them through this endeavor,” Sanger said, “and we’re glad the foundation could be here to help them reach out to the community.”
On Monday, workers began preparing the land for the playground. They are expecting to put up the playground equipment in April.
“We didn’t do anything special (on Monday), other than start digging and scraping,” he said.
The city’s Building Department issued the permit for the playground Friday, clearing the way for construction to begin. The playground, along with other improvements to the park, is valued at $220,000. The project will be funded by donations and volunteers. The city donated the space, officials reported.
Prior to the tragedy, the Perks often visited Rotary Park, which made it the ideal location for Liam’s playground. Designed by Carrie Perk, the playground is “not just a bunch of swings and slides put together either. Every detail has symbolic or real meaning,” Joey Perk wrote in a prepared statement.
“There is a double slide, when Carrie took Liam to the park they would slide together. There are four stars, four blades of grass and four hibiscus flowers — one for each member of our family,” he said.
The Perks have an infant daughter, Lyla.
According to Rotarian Elmer Tabor, the club had already decided to put a $25,000 playground at Rotary Park and had bid out the project when he was approached with the Perks’ idea of putting Liam’s playground up at the park. The club stored the initial playground equipment and decided to go with the Liam J. Perk Playground for Rotary Park, he said.
“Our playground is not going in and their’s is,” Tabor said. “Our playground is going to go into another park in Cape Coral, so another benefit in all of this is there are going to be two playground parks in Cape Coral.”
According to Posey, the dedication for the playground is scheduled for May 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Called Liam’s Family Time Celebration, the event will feature local dog trainers talking about dog behavior, representatives from the EMS and fire department discussing basic family safety and others.
“The whole thing is to get families out of the house to enjoy nature and hopefully create awareness,” he said. “It’s more concentrated on where your kids could be safer.”
To donate to the Liam J. Perk Foundation Fund, contact the Cape Coral Community Founda-tion at 542-5594 or visit: capecoralcf.planyourlegacy.org.