Mashashimuet Park to Temporarily Close Playground

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A rendering of the new playground to be installed at Mashashimuet Park.

After having promised early in the summer that construction of a new playground at Mashashimuet Park would begin this fall, the Parks and Recreation Association of Sag Harbor proved true to its word this week, announcing that Tuesday, October 9, will be the start date and that the work will take six weeks.

Gregg Schiavoni and Janine Rayano, the president and vice president of the park board, announced the date in a joint interview on September 27. They said the playground site will be closed and fenced or roped off while the work is in progresses.

The first thing passersby will see is workers removing the old equipment and, soon after that, the preparation of the site to receive the new equipment, they said.

Because of a delay in ordering the new equipment, it may take another week after footings are prepared for the equipment to be installed, they said. But because “a lot of it comes assembled,” Mr. Schiavoni said, “once it comes, it should go together pretty quickly.”

The project has evolved over the past two and a half years in response to concerns that the playground was at the end of its useful life. But now peoples’ biggest concern, Ms. Rayano said, is what will happen to their favorite old play features, including the spring-mounted rabbit, chicken, whale and firetruck not to mention the ride that looks vaguely like a seal in a baby carriage but is understood to be a lion.

“What’s happening to our favorite things?” people are asking, according to Ms. Rayano. “That’s the big question for them.”

The beloved old chicken at the current playground in Mashashimuet Park. Christine Sampson photo

“At this point,” she said, “we’re just going to store it until we have a better idea” what to do with it. “In general, it’s not being reinstalled. It’s not in the plan. We’re very attached to our things even if they’re rusty and old,” so they will be stored safely and “we’ll address those things in the future. Meanwhile, we have to move forward.”

A climbing rock and a “mushroom spinner” that was donated by local Girl Scouts two years ago will be kept as part of the new playground, they said.

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 employed the company’s representative Jeff LaRue to upgrade its playground behind Village Hall this year.

The park association has about $200,000 on hand and needs to raise $175,000. It will close the gap with an interest-only loan that would be paid off within a year, Mr. Schiavoni said.

“When people see the construction” underway, he said, “we’re hoping it might lead to more donors coming forward.”

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”