Costa Park Build Day a volunteer effort

Brand new playground will anchor Shirley Ave. area

COMMUNITY EFFORT: Shown above are some of the many volunteers who arrived at Costa Park for the Build Day last Wednesday. (Advocate photo / Aaron Keebaugh)

This past Wednesday more than 200 volunteers from the city and surrounding communities joined forces with The Neighborhood Developers, KaBOOM!, and JetBlue Airways to build the remaining portion of the playground on the corner of Shirley and Walnut Avenues at Costa Park, filling the once gravel-laden lot with activity.

The all-day build completed the second phase of the playground. The first, finished last October, brought a new look to the street-corner park. The new equipment—consisting of jungle gyms with slides, spring rides, and a swing set—replaces the old and out-dated ones that once occupied the area.

Once completed, the park will provide a safe play area for more than 500 children in the local community.

The design for the park was based on drawings done by the dozens of children who participated in a Design Day event for Costa Park in April. Adults were given the chance to share their ideas for the look and feel of the playground at the same meeting. Drawing from the information, the community voted last fall on which playground pieces should be included in the final product.

The volunteers worked in the park and on the street of a blocked-off Walnut Ave. assembling and securing playground equipment, building benches and picnic tables, and painting artwork for the mural and grounds, while a nearby sound system boomed dance music. That helped keep the mood of the workers festive and energetic on an otherwise hot day.

The mural, to be hung on park grounds, is a collage of artwork by children and adults. The children’s artwork included pictures of birds, butterflies, flowers, cartoon characters (like Lightning McQueen from Cars), and a Boston Celtics sign, while that of the adults comprised stencils, expressionist style paintings, and even amine-type drawings.

For the mural, Erichson Seang, a Lynn resident, created a blue stencil painting of a gazebo and another covered shelter. “It’s good to give something back to the community, even though it’s not mine,” he said of his artistic role in the build project.

In the back corner of the park, volunteers painted checkerboard table tops that will rest on the park’s new picnic tables.

A group of local high school students had painted a colorful map of the world in the same corner prior to Wednesday’s build. The map—a bold mixture of blue, red, yellow, and orange—covers the old hopscotch board that once adorned the ground.

The rubber surface of the playground will be poured over the next few days, depending on the weather conditions, KaBOOM! Representative Kathryn Lusk said.

The park should be completed by July 1, she said, adding: “We want to get it open as soon as possible.”

Founded in 1996 by social entrepreneur Darell Hammond in Washington, DC as a non-profit organization, KaBOOM! works to promote the physical and social health of children by aiding in the construction of playgrounds within walking distance of residential communities around the country.

Costa Park is one of 150 playgrounds that the organization plans to complete this year. And through a partnership between KaBOOM! and JetBlue’s Community Connection Volunteer Program, the new Costa Park construction stands as the fourteenth playground to be constructed nationwide.

Funding for the playground came from the city of Revere, The Neighborhood Developers, and KaBOOM! and totaled $150,000, according to the city’s Capital Improvement Program for FY13–FY17.

Representatives from JetBlue declined to reveal the exact amount of the airline’s investment in the project.

“It’s almost impossible to put a cost on (the project) due to the large amounts of private donations,” Lusk said.

Commenting on the size of Wednesday’s volunteer force for the build, JetBlue Representative Jenna Clifford said: “It was a good day. We had far more volunteers than what we expected.”