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Hingham's South Shore Conservatory close to playground fund-raising needs

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 14, 2013 05:15 PM

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South Shore Conservatory

(Above) A Rhythm Run Fundraiser helped raise $12,000 for a new playground. (Left) The playground will be in neutral colors and will replace the existing 18-year-old structure.

Though Hingham’s South Shore Conservatory has one month to finish an $87,000 fund-raising effort for a new playground, a recent $10,000 matching donation has school officials optimistic that plans could soon turn into reality.

The donation, which will be given on a dollar-for-dollar match, will help fill in the remaining $21,000 needed to get to the fund-raising goal.

And with construction set to start in August, Conservatory staff are hopeful a few remaining residents can step up and donate the final amounts.

“It’s been a real community effort,” said Eileen Puzo, development officer of donor relations.

The conservatory has been planning on purchasing and installing a new playground since late 2012, a much-needed investment when compared with the 18-year-old structure that exists on the Hingham Conservatory campus.

“At first we were just in the process of figuring out what it was we wanted, what was age- appropriate or not. Then we looked at three different firms and then we chose the firm we’re going with, Childscapes based out of Marshfield,” Puzo said.

Plans were soon set up to create an interactive playspace, made out of recycled plastic, for children up to age 9.

Wanting to fit in with nearby Bare Cove Park, the playground will also be in colors found in nature, and will have tie-ins to the conservatory with music photos and words throughout the space.

Not to mention the freestanding percussion panels friendly for both children and developmentally disabled students.

“We wanted something you could engage in and have fun with and continue the creative theme, which is so prevalent inside our building, and bring that outside as well,” Puzo said.

And outdoor ampitheater built at a slight grade will also enable children to put on shows during free time, will offer another rehearsal or performance space for drama programs, and will allow teachers another space to engage their students.

Though it may sound extensive for a playground, Puzo said the structure is used all day.

“It is used for the preschools - a two-day that comes in and a three-day. We have a pre-k that comes in throughout the afternoon, and then we have our kindergarten, a full day…we have a program called music together, and we have several classes throughout the day,” Puzo said.

Not to mention the use the playground currently gets on the weekends, and by siblings of students taking music lessons in the afternoon.

“There are always kids on it. It’s a terrific place for people to be and be active and engaged,” Puzo said.

The new space will be a drastic upgrade from the twice-moved playground currently outside the Conservatory. Though it isn’t dangerous, the structure is starting to show its age.

Plastic meshing has worn away, leaving exposed chains. Handles and railings have splintered and cracked, and are covered with duct tape to prevent splinters.

Fund-raising has been ongoing since November 2012, and started just with parents. A larger solicitation for donations coupled with a highly successful 5k Rhythm Run helped raise even more funding.

Puzo said she was confident that with only a few weeks to go, the final stretch of the fund-raising would be accomplished.

Plans are to remove the fence around the structure the second week of August. John Riley, a retired selectman and general contractor, has donated his time to level the land before playground construction begins, and has built a retaining wall.

From there a new fence as well as new amenities will be added to the playground.

The playground would be open tentatively in the fall.

For more information on the structure or to find out how to donate, click here.

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