A community-built playground on Matinicus is getting a lot of use these days from the next-door students at the island school, both at recess and after school.
Natalie Ames, mother of three young children, led the effort to create a sturdy, safe and creative playground for all island children and any visitors who want to play there. The grassy site beside the old one-room schoolhouse is on land donated to the town years ago by a summer couple.
Ames said the colorful steel playground, surrounded by chips for soft landings, is meant to be fun but challenging for local children, whom she believes have long needed something like this.
“Kids out here know how to run an outboard skiff before they can ride a bike. In the summer, these kids jump off the steamboat dock for fun.”
For Ames, the playground took “three years and two weekends,” and it climaxed in a ribbon cutting with ice cream for all. “Being a project manager for this is a whole new experience,” she said, and it makes believe in people’s generosity.
To make the playground happen, Ames enlisted the help of many islanders and received cash and in-kind donations from nearly everyone. Jim Kalloch, who operates a ferry to and from the mainland, helped bring lots material to Matinicus. He also offers to transportation for school field trips.
Post-and-beam barn builder John Libby, a seasonal island resident, brought his excavator over for site work. The steel poles for the climbing equipment are sunk deep into concrete footings underground, and Ames said the playground should last for decades.
Other helpers included mothers Tiffany Strong (who coordinated the project), Lisa Twombly and Kate Bernard. Peggy Booth helped with grant writing, and the Libra Foundation, Charles Cawley Foundation and MBNA gave grants totaling some $30,000.