Work on Esplanade Playspace Set to Begin Next Month

-By Dan Murphy

With all the necessary permits in hand from the city and state, Friends of the Esplanade Playspace is scheduled to break ground on its new playground on the Charles River Esplanade in mid-April.

The non-profit is building an approximately 10,000 square-foot playground for 5- to 12-year-olds on state land a short distance from the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge near the Hatch Shell café. Boston-based Halvorson Design Partnership is the architect for the project, and ValleyCrest Landscape Companies was selected as the contractor. Construction for the privately funded project will cost around $1 million, and the playground is slated to open in mid-July, said Tani Marinovich, secretary and founding member of the Friends group.

The Friends group has also pledged a $400,000 endowment for maintenance and programming, which aims to combat the reportedly high level of childhood obesity in the city. Programming partners will include The Esplanade and Hill House, among other organizations, Marinovich said.

Equipment now on order for the Esplanade Playspace.

Playspace equipment is on order and includes a zipline, a rock-climbing structure, a swing dish, an old jungle that now doubles as a public-art piece and a “story hut,” designed to reflect native dragonflies. Cambridge sculptor Mitch Ryerson is also crafting a custom piece from a Black Locust tree to help build children’s build upper-body strength. (Peterson has also agreed to teach a class at the playground that will focus on sculpting with natural materials, Marinovich said.)

While the Friends group has privately raised $700,000 to date, Marinovich said the organization still needs an additional $300,000 to cover the cost of construction.

To reach this goal, the Friends will launch its Pennies for the Playground campaign this week, with Starbucks on Charles Street and the Charles Street Market accepting donations.

Also, the names of donors who contribute gifts of $5,000 and above by May 15 will be engraved on a granite wall on the playground site.

Meanwhile, the Friends group will hold another public meeting in April prior to the start of construction, as well as a Community Building Day in June when residents can lend a hand in building the playground by spreading mulch and planting trees, among other tasks.

For more information about the Esplanade Playspace or to make a donation, visit Donations can also be made by calling Tani Marinovich at 617-905-7542.

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