Park Board to Kids: Playground’s Almost Done

Mashashimuet Park Board President Gregg Schiavoni explains the progress on the construction of the new playground at the park to the students at Sag Harbor Elementary School during their Morning Program on Tuesday, 12/4/18. Michael Heller photo

During a time of year when good things are often in store for patient children, members of the Parks and Recreation Association of Sag Harbor dropped by morning program at Sag Harbor Elementary School on Tuesday to offer just that: news that the Mashashimuet Park playground is nearing completion.

With a slideshow of pictures of the progress scrolling behind him, park board president Gregg Schiavoni told children another two weeks and the new playground should be complete. He recalled the brainstorming session that took place about three years ago with Sag Harbor Elementary students, who shared ideas for the playground of their dreams.

“Do you guys remember when … you designed structures for the playground? What you’re going to see here is hopefully your hard work that paid off,” Mr. Schiavoni said. “Hopefully within the next two weeks, we will have the playground open. Once it’s open, feel free to go visit it. You can even look now to see the progress that’s being made. Hopefully everything that you guys worked on is coming to fruition.”

An excited murmur trickled through the crowd of students who had gathered for their daily morning routine in the gymnasium.

Jeanine Rayano, the vice president of the board, said she is surprised and excited over how the playground is looking.

“We want to thank everyone for all their good wishes, the dollars that have come in and the patience you have had,” she said.

Jeff Robinson, the park manager, explained to the students the park had been a gift from an important Sag Harbor historical figure: Mrs. Russell Sage, whose full name was Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, who donated the land that became Mashashimuet Park, among numerous other gifts the benefactress made towards the betterment of Sag Harbor Village.

“A big part of my job is to keep the park safe for all those who visit and play at the park. It is so awesome,” he said. “Over 100 years ago, Mrs. Sage gifted the park to the children and community of Sag Harbor. Because of this gift, we can all call Mashashimuet Park our own.”

He thanked the 13 volunteer members of the park board who help “run it as Mrs. Sage would see fit.”

“Let’s all enjoy our new playground together,” he said.

Before morning program was over, kindergarten teacher Nina Landi took the microphone to announce a special gift from the students to “Mash Potato Park,” as the littlest kids often refer to the park.

“Most of the young people in this room are not able to write a check to you guys to help with the park fund,” she said. “…but what are we really good at collecting?”

“Caps!” the students all shouted.

“We have collected 400 pounds of caps and made you an eight-foot, rainbow bench to be delivered the first week of January to the park,” Ms. Landi concluded.

It will be the third bench the students will have donated through the school’s Caps to Benches program, in which the kids collect plastic bottle caps and send them to a processing company to be transformed into colorful benches. Sag Harbor Elementary also placed a bench in honor of veterans at Marine Park on Bay Street and donated another to a needy school in Michigan.

Referring to the school’s theme this year, “Community… By the Sea and Beyond,” principal Matt Malone thanked the park board.

“The reason this community is so wonderful is that every member of this community is willing to do their part to add to our lives together,” he said.

Some of the kids themselves said they’re eagerly anticipating the playground’s completion.

“It looks really cool,” fifth-grader Jeffrey Gregor said.

“I think I saw a zip line in there,” said Kyle Seltzer, another fifth grader. “I’m looking forward to all the new equipment. It’s cool that they got the community together to raise money for it.”

“I think it’s really cool they’ve taken the students’ ideas and are making them into real things. I’m really excited to get to see it in real life,” said Anya Corio, also a fifth grader.

“I’m excited for the big net kind of thing,” said Lily Corcoran, another fifth grader.

The four fifth-graders agreed they will probably make more trips to the new playground.

“I think it’s going to be really cool now,” Lily said.