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Clairton's Wilson neighborhood to get new playground

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 3:56 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Clairton Unity Group members Kathy Ulmer and Kathy Tachoir review KaBOOM! playground plans with fire Asst. Chief Joe Lazur and Chief John Lattanzi Tuesday afternoon. A playground will be built by volunteers near the intersection of N. Third Street and Division Avenue in the Wilson neighborhood on May 18.

Clairton is looking for volunteers who want to have a “dynamite” time building a new playground in the Wilson neighborhood.

This month, the city will get a second recreational facility from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

Needed are about 30 volunteers for a prep day on May 16 starting at 8 a.m.

The playground will be built on May 18, when the city hopes at least 200 volunteers turn out at the work site by 8 a.m. A kickoff ceremony is scheduled for 8:30.

Those 18 and older will do the construction. Younger volunteers can assist with side projects, games and activities. Food and drinks will be provided.

Fire Chief John Lattanzi applied for the playground about 10 years ago when the city's first KaBOOM! playground was built in the Southside development along Reed Street.

He said he received a notice from the organization around Easter this year, inquiring if interest remained in a new facility at the former N. Third Street Playground.

“It's going to bring something to the children in this area that they don't have now,” Lattanzi said. “We're hoping we can build from this thing. We're hoping we can put a playground somewhere else in the city.”

The area now is used for basketball. The fire department acquired the land from Clairton City School District about 12 years ago.

Lattanzi represented the fire department when the Southside playground was built.

“It was a very hectic day, but everybody seemed to know what they were doing and everything got accomplished,” Lattanzi said.

To prepare for the new playground, said city manager Howard Bednar, KaBOOM! had conference calls with city officials and residents every Wednesday, and a site coordinator visited Clairton to get input from youngsters and their parents.

“I'm glad it's being built in a part of town where it will not be destroyed,” resident Jared Anthony said. “My son Mason is 2, and it would be really nice to have a new playground right here in town for him to enjoy. I'd like to see chimes for the younger kids to play with. I'd also like to see a revolving tic tac toe board. I think there needs to be at least a couple baby swings there, too, the ones with the one-piece seat.”

“We are excited to be able to provide the children of Clairton a new playground,” Councilwoman Kathy Tachoir said. “Fire Chief John Lattanzi has tried for years to make this happen. He never gave up on his idea. The fire department donated the land on which the playground will be built.

“It is another activity that shows, by working together, we can improve the city of Clairton.”

Resident Laura Crouch said she would allow her four sons and two daughters to use a playground in that part of town.

“We've been taking the kids to Pleasant Kingdom behind the Pleasant Hills police station,” Crouch said. “It's really neat. It's in the shape of a castle. I'd like to see tunnels and sandboxes and more stuff for the kids 2 and younger, and maybe even a shelter with tables for parents to sit and watch their children.”

The playground is sponsored by Clairton Volunteer Fire Department, Clairton Unity Group, The Heinz Endowments and KaBOOM!

More information is available by calling 412-233-8113 or emailing manager@cityofclairton.com.

More information about KaBOOM! is available online at kaboom.org.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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