Franklin community builds playground on College Drive

Published 1:15 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

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Around 100 community leaders, business people and concerned citizens volunteered their time Wednesday, July 12, to build a new playground at College Drive Park in the city of Franklin.

The entire build, which included new slides, swings, climbing equipment, pavilion, park benches and a Little Free Library, was completed that day and — after allowing the concrete to settle and dry — is open to the public as of Monday, July 17.

“The park build was an amazing display of community engagement that made a direct difference in the daily lives of local children,” said Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt, who was among the volunteers at the park on July 12. “When we sought out volunteers, local businesses and volunteers headed the call to assist. This months-long project was completed in three days due to the local commitment of others. We are appreciative of all volunteers but specifically the large numbers provided by International Paper. Their efforts were tremendous and allowed the project to be completed on time.”

Sammara Green, director of the Franklin Department of Parks and Recreation, said, “This new playground build will create a positive and vibrant community atmosphere by combining physical, social and developmental benefits. It will promote active and healthy lifestyles, will foster social connections, and will provide an inclusive and engaging environment for individuals of all ages.”

She explained how the project came to pass.

“I applied for a grant back in February through KABOOM!,” she said, referencing a national nonprofit organization, the website of which notes that it unites with communities to build kid-designed play spaces. “KABOOM! had a grant that was funded through Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to target building new play spaces with no matching funds for the locality.

“College Drive Park was in need of a new play space as the existing one was older,” she continued. “We thought it would be a great opportunity for the city of Franklin. Some surrounding cities were also awarded the grant, such as Petersburg and Emporia.”

Green listed the groups and organizations that participated in the playground build: City of Franklin staff, International Paper, Bronco Federal Credit Union, Early Childhood of Western Tidewater, Southside Diabetes, Hunt Valley Installers, Franklin-Southampton Area United Way, Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Franklin Community Development, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Down the Middle Foundation, Camp Community College, Franklin City Council, Franklin City School Board, Wanta Bottle by Cofield’s, Captain Bob’s, Kona Ice, and Celebration Church.

“I want to thank all of our community members, volunteers and local organizations working together to make build day a success,” Green said. “This collaborative effort fosters a sense of ownership and community pride. We wouldn’t have done this without our community coming together. We hope our community enjoys the new playground that the department has to offer.”