The Village of Lewiston celebrated its new inclusive playground Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Marilyn Toohey Park behind the Red Brick Municipal Building. Since the site opened earlier this summer, it has been a popular location for families with small children. The splash pad has been particularly busy.
Mayor Anne Welch served as emcee, introducing members of Mark Cerrone Inc., Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, Niagara River Greenway Executive Director Greg Stevens and Town of Lewiston Councilman Bill Geiben. She was joined by trustees Vic Eydt, Dan Gibson and Tina Coppins.
Also on hand were members of the Lewiston Lions Club (which donated more than $10,000 for the purchase of an Oodle double swing), Lower Niagara Moose Lodge No. 584 (which raised more than $10,000 at a 2019 fundraiser) and Mike Carroll (who netted $6,450 at this 11th annual “Halloween Bash” in 2019).
Welch said, “This is a great day to open this brand-new, all-inclusive playground and splash pad. As you know, this playground was designed to benefit children of all ages and abilities.
“This playground was made possible with grants from DASNY – Dormitory Authority of the State of New York – and Niagara River Greenway/Town of Lewiston, and many private donations. The equipment is from Parkitects Inc. Thank you, Ben Fraser, for all you help; and Landscape Structures – thank you Nathan and Sara Emery for all your help.
“This playground was constructed by community volunteers – which saved us over $100,000! So, a big thank you to all of you.
“I want to thank Assemblyman Angelo Morinello for helping us to secure the reallocation of $250,000 of DASNY funding to use for our playground. I also want to thank Supervisor Steve Broderick and Town of Lewiston councilmen for their generous support of funding $200,000 through the Niagara River Greenway. Thank you, Greg Stevens, executive director of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, for all of your help.
“I especially want to thank George Churakos and Vince Cerrone, from Mark Cerrone Inc., for taking on the construction of this project and donating their time and services. George came to see me when I first wanted to build this playground, and sat down in my office and said, ‘I will build your playground without any cost to you.’ This was a very generous offer – how could I refuse? Vince was on site when the construction began and told me, ‘Anything you need, let me know.’
“This was a huge undertaking and, under the supervision of project manager John Toscano and all the subcontractors on this project, this dream has become a reality and a wonderful place where all children can safely play. Thank you, John, for coordinating this huge project; I know it wasn’t easy, but you did an amazing job.
“Also, many thanks to our village engineer, Mike Marino (Nussbaumer & Clarke), for all the planning that went into this project; and architect Jim Fittante for his design of our beautiful pavilion.
“I want to thank Superintendent Larry Wills and our Department of Public Works for all their work on the playground; and Shannon, Stephanie and Donna in our clerk’s office who fielded all the calls and emails and kept all the paperwork straight.
“This project was no ‘walk in the park.’ It was hard work, and every contractor donated their time and services, and worked together to make this park what it is today. The list of the sponsors who generously donated their time, services and materials – and also the many donors that made this possible – can be seen printed on the sign on the side of the comfort station. You will also see donors’ names on plaques on equipment, benches and trees. The trees will be planted in the fall.
“Thank you, again, for making this dream become a reality, and for giving this lasting gift to the children and adults of our community.”
Playground hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The splash pad is operational from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Anne Welch thanks George Churakos, Vince Cerrone and John Toscano from Mark Cerrone Inc.
Greg Stevens, Angelo Morinello, Welch and Bill Geiben
Dan Gibson, Mike Carroll, Recreation Director Brendan McDermott and Tina Coppins
Clerk Shannon Fundis, Treasurer Stephanie Longell and Deputy Clerk Donna Vazquez
Mike Marino and Larry Wills