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Cranberry must raise $250,000 by June for new playground to become a reality

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Sketches of playground to be built in Cranberry

Cranberry wants to embrace its past, present and future with a playground that could open next fall if the community can raise about $250,000 for it by June.

Commissioners unveiled plans for Kids Castle, which will replace the 22-year-old Playtime Palace, in the community park off Route 19. The Palace attracted thousands of visitors each year.

The cost of the project likely will be between $500,000 and $600,000, said John Trant Jr., township strategic planning officer.

“Parks and playgrounds are often seen as apple pie and fluff,” Trant said, adding that without them, “We wouldn't be able to attract the people we're able to attract to live and work here.”

Cranberry officials said the Playtime Palace is too old to maintain and doesn't comply with current safety standards. It is scheduled to close permanently on April 20, the same day as a groundbreaking ceremony for Kids Castle.

The new playground will be built adjacent to the old one, allowing officials to expand the playground on land triple the size of the old playground, and offer more parking and safer access for pedestrians.

According to design plans, the playground will have swings, climbing spaces and more to reflect Cranberry's farming past, an archway that will incorporate the old playground's clock tower design, and futuristic play structures.

The Cranberry Uniting Playground organization pledged $175,000 to the cost of the playground over the next five years, while the Cranberry Township Community Chest pledged $50,000.

Commissioners last week approved $82,500 in funding to design the playground, but that money will be reimbursed by donations.

Supervisor Chairman Bruce Mazzoni, a member of the playground committee, said the timetable for the project depends on the community raising $250,000 by June.

“We're probably at step 100 out of a 10,000-step process,” Mazzoni said, adding, “This is a big challenge for us. This is the most money we've ever gone out to raise.”

Organizers are looking for playground fundraiser coordinators to collect donations from their neighborhoods. Mazzoni said organizers will also approach businesses. Donations of $20,000 and $50,000 mean playground equipment will be named after the sponsor.

It's the third annual community project for the township. Installing a community sign at routes 19 and 288 in 2011 was the first. The second was this year's Scouting Centennial Plaza. For details about the project and fundraising efforts, visit www.CTCChest.org.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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