Volunteers sought to build playland in Liberty Twp.

Saturday, June 27, 1998

BY ANNA GUIDO
Enquirer Contributor

playground
Chris Matacic, president of the Liberty Township Park Committee, tests overhead bars at another playground.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP -- Mazes, tunnels and slides will span half an acre in a colossal outdoor playland planned for The Reserves Park on Van Gordon Road.

July 4, the township parks committee will begin raising funds and seeking about 2,000 volunteers for the May 1999 construction in Butler County.

"We're going to attempt to get as much of the community involved as possible," project chairman Ken Krallman said.

The wooden playland -- at an estimated cost of $200,000 -- will have connecting mazes, tunnels, walkways, slides and other play features that the community designs.

The concept, launched 27 years ago by Ithaca, N.Y., resident Robert Leathers, is fairly new to the area. Leathers & Associates Inc. has since helped communities in the United States, Australia, Canada and Israel build more than 1,200 playlands.

TO HELP

The kickoff fund-raiser is a Popsicle stick sale beginning July 4 at the township festival in Liberty Park. Imprinted sticks proclaiming "Fort Liberty Playland" sell for $1 each.

Engraved pickets for the fence around the playground go on sale later.Art about $50 each, they will bear the donor's name.

To help with construction, call Mr. Krallman at 844-2616.

To donate cash or materials, call Mrs. Matacic at 779-2659.

Cincinnati's first Leathers & Associates playland was built last year in Hamilton County's Colerain Township. More than 1,000 volunteers built the $90,000, quarter-acre structure in five labor-intensive days. They named it "Megaland."

Liberty Township's will be called "Fort Liberty Playland," said parks committee President Chris Matacic.

Representatives from Leathers & Associates will come to Liberty Township this fall to help planners and children design the play structure, Mrs. Matacic said. Then next spring, the community will build it.

Leathers & Associates playlands have cost as little as $45,000 and as much as $160,000. Size, site conditions and features affect the cost.

"Ours is going to be bigger than average, but we need to build a big playground because this community has a lot of kids," Mr. Krallman said.

Once the playland design is complete, construction hours can be calculated.

Mr. Krallman estimates he'll need 2,000 volunteers. Some will work all day, every day. But most will work a four-hour shift one day.

The project will begin May 19, 1999. Saturday and Sunday will be the busiest days, Mr. Krallman said.

"These are the big days for work because we do a lot of sanding these two days," he said. "We have to sand down the wood to keep kids from getting splinters -- safety for the kids is paramount."



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