October 20, 2021

Volunteers gather to assemble equipment in Homer

Playground pitch-in

Shenandoah Briere/staff reporter

Volunteers, as part of the United Way Day of Caring, help the Homer Village Department of Public Works assemble the new playground Wednesday morning at Newton Park. The playground will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

A group of about 10 people hoisted up a plastic tub and pushed beams toward it, lining up the holes so a Homer Department of Public Works worker could screw the nuts and bolts in place.

They were among 20 people assembling a new playground Wednesday morning at Newton Park in Homer. The group included village officials, workers and volunteers from Bailey Place Insurance, Molina Healthcare and the Cortland Breakfast Rotary Club participating in the United Way Day of Caring.

“We work in the community and we enjoy giving back to the community,” said Hope Cross, director of agency operations at Bailey Place Insurance.

Cross, who is a grandmother, said it’s a great way to give something to the kids. “I love to hear them playing, it’s the greatest sound,” she said.

The idea for the new equipment came after resident Hannah Potter sought help from Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe to improve the park after taking her 4-year-old son there to play.

Day of Caring

Other United Way Day of Caring events:

  • Painting benches at Durkee Park in Homer.
  • Painting the playground at Yaman Park in Cortland.
  • More than 40 McGraw High school students worked on projects in the village.
  • Volunteers picked up boxes of donated food across the community for food banks.
  • A Smith School third-grade class helped volunteers sort the food donations at Beaudry Park in Cortland.
  • Kids at Appleby Elementary in Marathon collected pennies for food banks.

The park has become a hub for children during the school year because they cannot use the playground at Homer Elementary School when the school is in session. The new playground is for children ages 5 to 12.

The village voted in March to use $24,584 from a Community Development Block grant to buy the equipment, but with bulk discounts it spent $24,892 for all that plus a bench and bike rack. To cover the extra $300, the village board used money from a $50,000 park renovation reserve fund.

After polling residents to decide on playground options, Pioneer Estates was picked, which cost $22,466. It is an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant playground.

However, when village Treasurer Tanya Digennaro went to buy the playground plus the swings in May it came out cheaper — $21,046.

To use the entire grant, the village decided to buy bike racks and a bench.

“I love this,” Digennaro said. “This is what it’s all about — seeing everyone together and then when you get to see the kids on it.”

Digennaro said a celebration is planned for the park’s opening, but a date has not yet been set.

Public works employee Kevin Reese said once the playground is built, the village must finish the ground underneath it, pouring concrete, putting in gravel, then fabric and finally woodchips.

“It’s all up to Mother Nature,” he said.