By John Anderson

When Governor Deval Patrick signed the Commonwealth’s FY15 budget late last week, two important items were included that directly benefit our community. While he trimmed $16 million from the $36.5

Approximate playground location; the performance pavilion is to the left; the concession stand diagonally across at bottom right

Approximate playground location; the performance pavilion is to the left; the concession stand diagonally across at bottom right

billion budget before affixing his signature, he didn’t alter Auburn’s line items.

In April, Representative Paul Frost filed in the House version of the budget $80,000 for the construction of a handicap-accessible playground at the Dr. Arthur and Dr. Martha Pappas Recreation Complex and $5,000 towards summer camp programs to help at risk youth through Auburn Youth and Family Services. Senator Moore was also successful in having these same items included in the Senate version of the budget.

The $80,000 in state funding will be combined with the approximately $30,000 raised for the playground by the Friends of the Pappas Recreation Complex to date.  This amount is being matched by Dr. Arthur and Dr. Martha Pappas through a matching challenge grant. Combined with funds previously committed by Drs. Pappas in December, 2012, the total funding amounts to about $190,000. This would be enough to fully fund the playground project.

Town Manager Julie Jacobson commented, “I want to thank Representative Paul Frost and Senator Michael Moore for their advocacy on behalf of the Town of Auburn and for supporting the inclusion of the playground project in the House and Senate budgets. I also want to thank and acknowledge the hard work of the Friends of the Pappas Recreation Complex [FOPRC] for their commitment to the playground project and congratulate them on their successful fundraising efforts.”

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One of the design proposals for the Pappas Recreation Complex playground.

“We are so pleased. After working so hard for so long, we’re finally going to see the playground come to fruition” said FOPRC member Jen LaBonte. “We are grateful to Arthur and Martha Pappas, and to Paul Frost and Mike Moore for coming through to help get this completed.  We are so thankful for everyone in Auburn and beyond who generously donated to and supported this project.  Every dollar made a difference” she added.

Town officials will be meeting with members from the FOPRC and Drs. Arthur and Martha Pappas in the coming days to map out the next steps. “We’re hoping that construction can begin sooner than later” said FOPRC president, Jeff LaBonte. “The inclusion of the state funding probably alters some of the process, but Auburn has a great team experienced in that area. So hopefully things will move along without too much delay.”

Needless to say, everyone is grateful to Arthur and Martha Pappas for the continued, unselfish support of their hometown. Many generations will enjoy the safe, inclusive design of this playground, and it is certain to be another Auburn gem that other communities will envy.