Mashashimuet Park Playground Will Be Built This Fall

The fund-raising tree at Mashashimuet Park shows $200,000 raised so far. Peter Boody photo

After more than two years of pondering, planning and fund-raising, the Parks and Recreation Association of Sag Harbor has decided to pull the trigger and build a new playground this fall at Mashashimuet Park, using a loan or line of credit to close the gap between cash on hand for the project and the final bill.

A new layout that eliminates some custom-built items and saves more than $100,000 over the previous design inspired the park’s governing board to ponder its financing options and begin the installation after Labor Day.

Expected originally to cost about a half-million dollars, the playground installation is now priced at about $375,000 for a proposal made by Kompan, an international playground supplier based in Texas with a regional office in Bristol, Connecticut. The village of North Haven has previously employed the company’s representative Jeff LaRue to upgrade its playground behind Village Hall.

Gregg Schiavoni and Janine Rayano, the president and vice president of the park board, announced the board’s decision to accept the Kompan proposal and proceed with the project on Monday during an interview at the Express office. They said the work should take four to six weeks and the goal was to complete it before the end of 2018.

“We really want to thank the people for all their support and patience,” Mr. Schiavoni said of the donors who have given about $150,000 toward the project over the past two and a half years. He also thanked Sag Harbor Village Trustee Aidan Corish, the Village Board’s liaison to the private, non-profit park board. Mr. Corish donated a “money tree” — built by his branding firm, Tangram — that stands outside Mashashimuet Park showing the progress of the fund-raising campaign. “We’re very, very thankful for their support,” Mr. Schiavoni added.

Adding to the $150,000 on hand from donors, the park board plans to make a contribution of $50,000 to $70,000 from its own capital reserves. It is working with Bridgehampton National Bank to obtain a loan or line of credit to make up the balance. It would be paid off using the park board’s usual revenue sources, its contract with the Sag Harbor School District, fees generated by its tennis courts and donations.

Both park officials expressed concern that the donors comprise a fairly small group and some have given more than once. “It’s frustrating they’ve been donating and donating with nothing to show for it,” Mr. Schiavoni said.

“We always felt pressure” to have something to show for all the fundraising, said Ms. Rayano. “We decide there was no more time to wait.”

The breakthrough came several months ago when Mr. LaRue contacted park board member Linley Pennebaker Hagen with a design proposal, Mr. Schiavoni said. At the time, the board “was not unhappy” with Leathers” & Associates, the playground firm the board has been working with since 2016, but everything “was on hold” because of the costs and a “lack of volume” in fund-raising.

“We were taking a step back to take another look,” Mr. Schiavoni said, “when lo and behold Linley was contacted” by Mr. LaRue. Over four to five months, board members had a series of meetings with him at which they “underscored enormously how much we wanted to save money.”

The new plan eliminates proposed custom-built play structures including a whale, whaleboat and windmill that were included in the Leathers plan, which was developed with advice from Sag Harbor elementary school students. Ms. Rayano and Mr. Schiavoni said the new plan incorporates their suggestions but uses standard equipment and structures from the Kompan catalogue.