Businesses and volunteers keep playground from closing

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WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A shoreline community is coming together to repair a playground in danger of closing. Painter Park has the most popular playground in all of West Haven. It almost had to shut down recently because parts of it needed fixing. That’s when some local businesses stepped in to help out.

Volunteers were busy fixing up the sprawling playground this morning. It is fitting because, back in 1994, it was all originally built by volunteers from the neighborhood.

“It was 5 days that we spent in May putting this up. In and out we probably had 100-150 people building it,” remembered Park Department Program Director Tom Conroy.

Twenty-two years later, the all-wood structures had some wear and tear and needed work to meet standards.

“Our insurance company told us we had to make these changes,” explained Mayor Ed O’Brien. “We really didn’t know how we were going to do it. We had a quote of upwards of $150,000 to do the repairs.”

That’s when the local Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Milford got involved.¬†Every Lowe’s store does a project like this every year, but the Painter Park playground was too big for one store. So associates from the Derby, Milford, Orange, and New Haven stores teamed up for the first time.

“A lot of our associates, a lot of our customers, are from the local area,” said Peter Oullette, manager of Lowe’s Derby store. “They’ve played here with their kids and their grandkids and we want to continue to build the playground back up.”

Folks working on the playground say a lot of the structure is still solid.

“So really, you know, decking boards, sanding a lot of things down, replacing hand rails, all brand new playground equipment, from the swings to the tire swings to the rope chain ladders,” Oullette said

They put in a new picnic area next to the playground. The materials are all donated by Lowe’s, with store employees doing the work, which saves the town all that that money.

The volunteers have been working one day a week for the past couple weeks. They need a couple more weeks to finish, and the hope is by October the kids will be back on the playground enjoying themselves.

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