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Getting to know your neighbor: Springville Youth, Inc. plans a community-built playground

SIGN OF THE TIMES — Springville Youth Incorporated maintains facilities on South Buffalo Street in Springville. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
SPRINGVILLE — The playgrounds at Springville Youth Inc., located on South Buffalo Street in Springville, were erected approximately 25 years ago, and had started to show their age. Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Springville-Griffith Institute Community Education Foundation, two new playgrounds will be constructed, on June 14 and 15, for the community and by the community.

“We were challenged [by our donor] to get the playgrounds finished by summer, and we are,” explained Nils Wikman, who is spearheading the project.

Wikman said that this facility will be constructed through a community build playground project, similar to the way the Springville Elementary School playground was built, approximately a decade ago.

The community build days will take place on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15, starting at 7 a.m. Wikman said that the group hopes to get a minimum of 40 people, on Friday, and 60 people, on Saturday, to get the job done in two days. With more people, the job will get done faster.

A supervisor will be there, to direct volunteers, and Mike Hannon has agreed to bring a skid steer and Bobcat® with auger attachments. Wikman has requested that individuals with the expertise to operate that equipment donate their time and talents, as well.

CONSTRUCTING A GOOD TIME — Two playground sites on SYI grounds, pictured above, are ready for the new equipment to go in on June 14 – 15.

“Our plea is not for anyone’s money. We don’t want your money, this time,” Wikman said. “We’re looking for your time and expertise, on Friday and Saturday.”

Volunteers have been asked to bring rakes and shovels and Wikman said that food, drinks, T-shirts and music, to set the mood, will be provided.

“The more, the merrier. Many hands make light work, and it would be great if we could get this done quickly, for the kids,” Wikman said. “We’re reaching out to our business sponsors, in the community, but we also know that, a lot of the time, a local business is run by one or two people and they can’t just close up shop, to come help us out. But those people may have kids, friends or relatives who can. This time, we don’t want a dime, just your time.”

Students from the Springville-Griffith Institute National Honor Society are being asked to participate, as well as anyone who is “community-minded” and wants to help out.

The playground was designed by Dibble Playgrounds, and will include two, separate courses for 2 – 5-year-olds and 5 – 12-year-olds, respectively. The plans have been in the works, for about the last five years, and will cost $55,000 – $65,000.

“It started as a vision,” Wikman said, of the new equipment. “We knew that our equipment had seen better days, and there really has been a change in philosophy, about what a playground should be. It’s a real paradigm shift.”

Wikman said that one of the courses has been specifically chosen to encourage older kids to push, pull, climb and run, through an obstacle course-like series of sets, that can be entered at any point. Steve Dibble, SYI’s point person on the project, has been building playgrounds for more than 20 years and, according to Wikman, is the local expert on the craft.

“We’ve really been working with people, to figure out what are our goals. We have a unique area, that we can do [sets for] both older and younger kids. We’ve thought of everything. It’s not like we just sat down one day and said, ‘Let’s build a playground.’ There’s a lot to it.”

Wikman said that the planners looked through an extensive catalogue of designs, to decide which would be best, for Springville’s needs.

“It’s almost forcing kids to be active,” Wikman said, of the design he chose for the older kids’ playground. “It makes kids hang upside down, run, jump. It’ll really get them moving, which is more fun, for the older kids.”

In addition to the playground sets, SYI is planning to install new benches, concrete and a wood carpet, to replace some of the pea gravel that currently covers the ground under the playground. That material is softer than pea gravel, which is no longer used as a playground cover, and more cost-effective than recycled rubber material that can be seen at some other playgrounds.

InTomes Technical and Consulting Services is assisting with the project, and Wikman said that SYI is reaching out, to other donors, to partner with and provide resources, for the project.

The main portion of those resources, Wikman added, will be community members who want to have a hand in their local playground.

“The elementary school playground is a beautiful facility, but unless you’re already driving by, it’s kind of far,” Wikman said. “We wanted to have a playground in the village center, that you could walk to with your toddler, to recreate.”

He added that the community build program will create a sense of ownership, in the facility.

“We want people to come back, 20 years from now, and be able to say to their kids and grandkids, ‘Hey! I helped build that playground!’ It really helps create a sense of pride, down the road.”

That sense of pride in the community is central to SYI’s mission statement to “stimulate community interest and involvement in planned, organized and supervised recreation activities.”

The organization works with local government entities, as well as the S-GI school district to provide year-round sporting programs for children ranging from 5 – 21 years of age, with a stated intent to make active recreation accessible and affordable for all residents of the town of Concord and Springville.

A 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, SYI was founded in 1940 and is administered by a board of directors.

In addition to scheduled activities, the organization also provides a community pool, basketball courts and an outdoor volleyball court, in keeping with its mission to “discover and interpret community recreation needs, plan for and develop a quality recreation and youth service program, to best meet the needs of the community, maintain high standards in recreation leadership and quality of service and cooperate and coordinate efforts, with other public or private organizations, to better provide recreation and social programs.”

Funding for SYI, its grounds and programs, is provided in equal part by Concord, Springville and program participant fees.

With the construction of the playground, Wikman said that SYI hopes to create a place for kids to play, right in the village, on equipment that the community built, for its members and future generations. Interested participants can get more information on the SYI website at or by calling Wikman at 592-9531 or Jason Shelley at 863-3339.


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