Little Rhody Park comes to fruition

May 1, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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The first person to officially climb the stairs of Little Rhody Park’s new playground was, surprisingly, not a child.

It was Corin Carper, one of the neighbors who volunteered his time to help build the community’s new slide and play structure at an April 12 work party.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Neighborhood volunteers and city staff construct the new Little Rhody Park playground April 12.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Neighborhood volunteers and city staff construct the new Little Rhody Park playground April 12.

Carper has children that will benefit from the new playground, but they will never get to say they were the first ones on it.

His childlike excitement was evident as he bounded up the still-unfinished stairs of the structure on Southeast 80th Street in the city’s west end.

“Let it be known, I was the first,” he said.

The project was a culmination of more than a year’s work after Newcastle Public Works Director Mark Rigos approached the neighborhood about the underutilized space.

The community pooled donations of its own before the Newcastle City Council allocated $60,000 in its 2014 budget for the park’s development.

“It is more than we ever thought possible in our neighborhood when we started this process two years ago,” said Danny Finan, a local resident. “As an added bonus, Mark Rigos and the city did an amazing job expediting the timeline to ensure the playground gets in as the weather is getting nicer, which everyone appreciates.”

The parcel’s naming process went through the city’s Community Activities Commission earlier this year, where they, and the neighborhood, decided on Little Rhody Park, a tribute to the nearby rhododendron farm.

Finan said the entire community, parents and children alike, are excited to try the new playground, which, as of press time, was still not officially open while city staff waits to put down wood chips.

“I can tell you that the kids are very excited with the structure just being in place,” he said. “In fact, just about every day since the installation, I’ve seen kids coming down to see if it is open yet.”

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