McKeesport crews prep for new KaBOOM! playground
City crews are preparing land in McKeesport's Highland Grove neighborhood for more than 200 volunteers to piece together a KaBOOM! playground next week.
Mayor Michael Cherepko said the entire community was on board with the idea of finding an appropriate spot for KaBOOM! to take on its third project in the city. In the past 10 years, the nonprofit organization helped to build a baseball field at LaRosa Boys & Girls Club and a public playground along Riverview Street.
“Even before we were approved, there was an interest,” Cherepko said. “The Highland Grove playground was in absolute deplorable condition, and it was the perfect site for a new project.”
City public works employees have been working on the site since last year, when the old playground equipment was removed. In recent weeks, crews have been preparing the land for next week's build.
“We removed the old concrete perimeter so that the new design can fit in this area,” public works director Steve Kondrosky said. “Now, we're bringing it up to grade.”
More than 200 volunteers are needed on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to put the playground together, build tables and a shade structure, and move more than 43,000 square feet of mulch. Fewer volunteers also are needed on Wednesday and Thursday to unpack the building materials. Call 412-675-5020, ext. 605, to register. Release forms are required for volunteers younger than 18.
The playground will include a climbing wall, swings and tic-tac-toe board. There will be a shade structure next to the play area, and across the street will be picnic tables, benches and planters.
Residents asked for dog waste cleanup stations and trash cans to be located in the playground and the park across the street.
A map of the United States will be painted on the basketball court, and the playground will be framed with a mural made of wooden blocks that children will paint during next week's build.
“There are all kinds of great things happening there,” mayor's assistant Annette James said. “It's going to bring the neighborhood together. There will be something for families and people of all ages to do.”
With the community taking part in the build, Cherepko said, the place will have a special place in residents' hearts.
“When a playground is built in this fashion, it gives the children and adults a sense of ownership that will continue with pride and respect after the playground is built,” he said. “In addition to the regular maintenance that our city workers will provide, the residents will take care of their playground.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956.