Mount Airy Elementary mothers see first results of playground drive


THEY ARE A group of nine mothers who saw a need, decided what to do and carried out their objective beyond their expectations.

It's been more than a year since the Mount Airy Elementary School Playground Committee began meeting to see what could be done to replace the aging and deteriorating playground equipment at their children's school.

Now, $47,000 has been raised through their efforts and the first phase of a new playground will be installed this fall.

"The wheels of progress are definitely moving," said Lucy Burnett, chairwoman of the Mount Airy Elementary School Playground Committee. "There have been no big delays, but the timing is out of our control, so we are just happy the process is going slowly but steadily."

Equipment costing $25,000 has been ordered. Once it arrives, it will be installed by West Recreation Inc. of Queenstown, the same company that supplied and installed the new playground at Mount Airy's Watkins Park.

"When we found out the same company was awarded our bid, we all went to Watkins Park to see their work," said Burnett. "And yes, we all climbed on the equipment and we were just thrilled with the exceptional quality from this vendor."

But the group is not content to rest just yet. Phase One of the new playground replaces only one of the school's aging playgrounds. Plans are set to hold a second "Fun Run" on Oct. 11 at the school with a rain date of Oct. 16.

"We really are hoping to make this our last fund-raiser," said Burnett.

The group's first "Fun Run" held last fall raised more than $16,000 in pledges from children at the school and an additional $5,000 in corporate sponsorship. The committee hopes to match that this year.

Local business Health Unlimited has stepped forward to help in the fund-raising effort, donating $7,000 to the playground fund from money raised at a golf tournament it held last week.

"The problem is that Phase Two of our playground is a much more challenging project because we have to actually create a whole new site for it and it will cost significantly more than Phase One because of the ground preparation alone," said Burnett.

The second stage is projected to cost between $32,000 and $35,000.

Burnett said the decision was made to move the site of the second playground after a representative from the school district noted the steep grade of the current site.

"It just was not cost-effective to ramp the current site to make it ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible," said Burnett.

The playgrounds will be close to each other, near the athletic fields bordered by Main Street and Watersville Road.

Phase One of the playground replaces equipment that had been used primarily by the school's older children. Burnett says the equipment for both phases is geared to ages 5 through 12, which means it will stand the test of time.

"This aspect is very important because the makeup of our school may be changing in the future," said Burnett.

The Carroll County Board of Education has slated a school to be built in Mount Airy to relieve crowding. The school would house pre-kindergarten through second grade. The current Mount Airy Elementary School would accommodate grades three through five.

As for the new school to be built, Burnett says she hopes "a new generation of playground advocates will step forward and solve that new challenge."

Information: Mount Airy Elementary School Playground Fund, P.O. Box 688, Mount Airy 21771.

Bulldog golf tournament

The Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company will hold its annual Bulldog Open Golf Tournament on Monday at the Links at Challedon.

According to event chairman Greg Gue, the tournament promises a good time for everyone and a good fund-raiser for local firefighters.

A buffet dinner will be held at the fire company's activity building at Route 27 and Twin Arch Road for participating sponsors and golfers.

Foursomes or individuals may participate. The entry fee is $75 per golfer.

Information or to register: 301-829-0100.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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