Butterflies and Bollywood team up for a playground at Contryside Park - Centerville-Washington Township Times (07.08.10)

Butterflies and Bollywood team up for a playground at Countryside Park

Centerville-Washington Township Times, Thursday, July 8 2010

A proposed Butterfly Playground at Countryside Park, next to the Washington Township Recreation Center, took a large step forward in June with the influx of $57,000 in donations and grant money. Township trustees were presented with a $21,000 check at a June 27 fundraiser featuring internationally-known singers and musicians from the Bollywood film industry in Mumbai, India.

The donation was presented by Arti and Hemant Garg of Washington Township who organized a series of four concerts to honor the memory of their daughter, Yukta, and to support the township in its efforts to build a playground. In making the presentation at Centerville High School, the Gargs indicated they will continue to raise funds through concerts sponsored by the Yukta Garg Memorial Foundation.

Since approving a 2002 master plan for the park, the township has hped to establish a handicapped-accessible playground to expand creative play opportunities for children. Township trustees pledged $50,000 in matching seed money, with the remainder to be raised through grants and donations.

"The Gargs have been incredible partners in establishing a financial base for a playground." said Senior Recreation Supervisor Linda Madden, who oversees the project. "They've brought a tremendous amount of organization, creativity and passion to their fundraising."

Also in June, the township received a $36,000 Community Development Block Grant from Montgomery County. The grant will pay for handicapped accessibility at the park, including development of a driveway, side-walks and playground pads.

Funding now stands at close to $109,000, still short of the initial goal to start construction.

"The township is offering a plan, a location, and a financial base to build upon, but how and when the playground takes shape will depend upon grants and donations from the local community." said Dave Paice, recreation facilities director.

A playground plan developed last summer by landscape architects from Envision-Works includes various play areas scattered throughout the park.

"Different playground concepts are located in different areas. The hope is children can walk the entire one-mile path and have fun at different play stations throughout." Madden said.

The butterfly theme was inspired by Yukta Garg, 6, an avid Recreation Center user and butterfly lover who died in a 2006 auto accident near the recreation center. The activity areas were inspired by her interests that also are shared by many children her age. The township is looking first at these areas for development:

Nature Sounds Area - A music and theater space for creative play. A stage provides the focal point for the area and will be surrounded by four to six outdoor musical pieces, including chimes, drums and xylophones.

Butterfly Meadow Playground Area - A place to climb and play on a spider-web like structure, sheltered from the sun by giant flower umbrellas. Large bugs provide smaller climbing opportunities and educational display boards offer the chance to learn about the life cycles of meadow insects. The Butterfly Meadow will be near the park's A-frame shelter and adjacent to a butterfly garden that was established with the help of two local boy scouts.

"A new playground will enhance our summer park activities and provide year-round community play space," Paice said. Depending upon funding, the playground could potentially grow over the long term to include themed play areas for natural history, wood-lands, and ponds and streams.

Play areas were developed last year after Envision-Works volunteered to meet with kids attending recreation summer programs. Campers and Rec'ing Crew members expanded upon the butterfly theme, offered their interpretations, and sketched out their ideas.