The supplies were piled and the foundation work already begun Monday morning as city officials and leaders of North Platte’s Community Build Playground officially turned the first shovels of earth.
Local residents can join them starting Wednesday when volunteers start five to seven days of assembly of the privately funded $400,000 playground replacement on Centennial Park’s southeast side.
“This is an example of our community coming together to make something that — let’s be honest — will be really cool when it’s done,” Mayor Brandon Kelliher said in brief groundbreaking remarks.
About 25 people gathered Monday to celebrate the project’s fundraising success just 11 months after the City Council gave its blessing to the effort.
“We had hopes, but we didn’t know” whether installation could happen this fall, said Tauni Morris, project co-coordinator with fellow North Platte resident Emily Wurl.
“It was a weird climate with the COVID situation, and we didn’t know what the community (fundraising) climate would be. We were just blown away.”
Donations large and small pushed fundraising well past the initial $334,000 goal, aided by a $105,364 push May 5 on North Platte Giving Day that set a single-project record for that annual effort.
Reaching the $400,000 mark proved critical in staying on track despite rising supply costs due to the pandemic, the two women said.
It also meant the community-designed project, overseen by Playgrounds by Leathers, wouldn’t have to tap interest from the city’s Newburn Fund.
Volunteers can simply show up starting Wednesday to help with installation, Wurl and Morris said. They can sign up for specific tasks at webuildnp.org.
They hope the playground can be ready for use by mid-October, once the project’s poured-in-place rubber surface is finished. Landscaping will wait for spring, they said.
Morris and Wurl thanked the following major contributors at Monday’s ceremony:
» Guardians of the Park ($15,000 or more): Great Plains Health, Dr. Lee and Lisa Warren, Beveridge Well Drilling, James C. & Rhonda S. Seacrest Foundation, Tom and Kay Griffith, Walmart, NebraskaLand Bank, Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, The Telegraph.
» Partners of the Park ($8,000 to $14,999): Dr. Caroline and Paul Sorensen, Dr. Sam and Lynda Perry, Sandhills Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab, Union Pacific Railroad, Dr. Shawn and Michelle Murdock.