Group of neighbors coming together to rebuild a ‘forgotten’ park

Local News

VILLAGE OF SOLVAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – They say it takes a village, but in the case of Charles Ave. Park in Solvay, the village hasn’t been much help.

A broken support column on the Charles Ave. Park playground.

Over the past several years, neighbors say the park at the corner of Charles Avenue and Driscoll Avenue has fallen into disrepair. The green casing on all of the playground’s support poles is split and the metal platforms are rusting and falling apart.

“The slides are starting to crack and peel as well. You know, you see the damage as soon as you walk up. It all needs to be replaced,” said Jim Belano, Vice President of the group “Friends of Charles Ave. Park.”

The group is now taking it upon themselves to rebuild their “forgotten” neighborhood park. “Friends of Charles Ave.” started with just a few members but is now growing to meet the challenge, instead of relying on village support.

T-shirts featuring the “Friends of Charles Ave. Park” logo are for sale.

“People stopped going and unfortunately it fell by the wayside and this group came to me and said we want to refurbish this park and I said what do you got in mind,” said Solvay Mayor David Baichi.

With help from the Ithaca, N.Y. based not-for-profit “Play by Design,” which has helped with similar community-backed park projects in Auburn, Utica and around the country, “Friends of Charles Ave.” now have drafted plans and the goal of breaking ground in Spring 2020.

The new park will feature two playgrounds instead of one and will switch locations with the current basketball court. The existing parking lot will also be expanded.

The redesigned park will have two playgrounds, one for kids 2-5, the other 5-12 years old.

“It’s not depending on a politician or a government. It’s the people coming together to make the community better for themselves and the next generations,” said Baleno.

The $150,000 project will be entirely community funded. “Friends of Charles Ave. Park” is hoping for donations from local businesses and neighbors. When the work begins, all of the labor will also be 100% volunteers so anyone willing can help.

The goal is to have the entire project finished by Fall 2020.

For more information on how you can donate or volunteer your time click here. The “Friends of Charles Ave. Park” also encourages anyone looking to have fun while donating to visit their table at the Solvay Field Days on August 16 and 17.

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