Construction has begun on the playground at the Dr. Arthur and Dr. Martha Pappas Recreation Complex off Pakachoag St. The approximately $200,000 playground was removed from the original site plans when construction bids came in higher than expected. The complex officially opened in June 2012.
In July 2013, the Friends of the Pappas Recreation Complex launched a fund raising effort to add the playground. The campaign used the slogan, “Slide to the Finish” to promote what then president Jennifer LaBonte described as the “final piece of this awesome facility.”
Over the course of about 15 months, the Friends held various fund raisers including a popular character breakfast in November, 2014 and the 300 for $100 campaign. Spurred on by a $50,000 matching grant offered by Arthur and Martha Pappas and an $80,000 budget allocation secured by State Rep. Paul Frost and State Senator Michael Moore, the group managed to raise just over $200,000 in total.
The playground has several features not found at any other playground in Auburn. The site will be fully handicap accessible, for one. According to LaBonte, “This has a poured rubber surface that is nearly flush with the curbing, so there is no lip or edging to get over.”
There are also play features at several levels, but with minimal ramping. This will save space and allow for a more open play area while still providing ample climbing and slide features. “We are particularly happy with the fact that while ADA (Americans with Disabilities) required 10 accessible features, we added 27, in addition to the poured rubber surface” added LaBonte.
The playground will be situated directly across from the concession stand, and is accessible from the Marois Field (where the pavilion is located) as well. Construction is expected to be complete by around June 29.
While the playground progresses, so do the final two dugouts to be situated at Fuller Field. Another victim of the paring back after the original bids were received, the Friends of Pappas Recreation Complex received grants and donations from Home Depot, Fallon Community Health, and the Auburn Permanent Firefighters Association, and the Town of Auburn has provided labor and materials, to add the 4 dugouts at Camosse Field and Pappas (softball) field.
“It was a real safety issue, and something we felt was needed to finish off the fields” said LaBonte in January 2013 when the Friends donated about $21,650 for fencing, gates and dugouts. “They are top notch in every other way, this adds the finishing touch.”
Auburn Little League recently pledged $5,000 to allow completion of the final two dugouts presently under construction at Fuller Field.
When this flurry of activity is complete, the Pappas Recreation Complex should return to sounds of bats clanking and fans cheering instead of excavators moving dirt. There are no other significant additions expected at the complex in the near future. But then, “You never know” says LaBonte. “There are lots of good ideas. Time will tell.”