Starland Playground reopens thanks to community effort
A special dedication was held Wednesday morning, attracting dignitaries, community members and students by the score as Starland Playground next to Skyline Elementary School reopened.
The official reopening of the park featured two choir performances by first and second grade students, a ribbon cutting, many guest speakers and some of the children having a chance to play on the new playground.
The three Rotary Clubs of Cape Coral raised approximately $25,000 to fund the new ADA-accessible steel/plastic playground that was installed from July through September by volunteers. The city of Cape Coral provided the costs for sod and signage, which made the total cost of the project worth more than $36,000.
David Scott, a past president of the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, explained that they built the playground because schools are a part of the community. He told the crowd of students and community members that he hopes the children enjoy the park during school hours and the community enjoys it when school is not in session.
Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pohlman said Starland Playground has a history in the community and without the Rotary clubs, the project would not have happened.
“It was a great deed of gratitude,” he said.
Skyline Elementary School Principal Chuck Vilardi made a few comments Wednesday morning, which ended with his students yelling a big “thank you” for the playground.
“I want to thank the Rotarians for making our dreams come true,” Vilardi said. “Thank you for bringing it back.”
Sun Splash Manager Sandy Greiner also was in attendance during the ceremony Wednesday afternoon. She attended because she was among one of the initial people who raised funds and got the ball rolling to build the first Starland Playground, which was accomplished in three days in 1995 by 1,500 volunteers. The volunteers began working on the playground on March 2 at 5 p.m. and finished building it at 5 p.m. on March 4.
Greiner said everyone worked around the clock for three straight days in four shifts of 300 people.
She explained that she and many other volunteers raised between $82,000 and $85,000 in a year and a half to build the 18,000-square-foot wood playground. The after school program at Skyline raised an additional $10,000, which made the playground worth a grand total of $95,000.
Greiner said the expense of the playground came from the wood that was purchased.
“It was the coolest thing I have ever done in my life,” Greiner said about being apart of the team that built the playground.
Unfortunately the playground was hard to maintain over the years and became infested with wasps and began to deteriorate, so it was torn down two years ago.
Greiner said she loves the new playground and thinks it will be a lot easier to maintain because it is not wood.