OXFORD – It took a lot of time, a decent amount of money and a ton of love for children to create a new playground in Oxford where children, and their parents, can build lasting friendships.
On Sunday, the town officially dedicated the upscale playground with a ceremony featuring more than 150 people, including dozens of children. Town officials dedicated the park on Great Oak Road to the memory of Lily Brooks, an Oxford girl taken from this world just as this world was starting to see her amazing joy and spirit. Her spirit will live on for decades as children will forever know she is the person for whom the park is named.
Krya Nesteriak, chairwoman of the Oxford Playscape Committee that oversaw this project from conception to reality, described her emotions as excited, proud and happy as she watched children run around the park and wait in line for the slides and swings.
“I’m honored to have been part of this,” she said. “Their imaginations and spirits are going to soar, they are going to be getting exercise, making friends that hopefully they keep for a lifetime.”
The playground consists of two playscapes – one for children between the ages of 2 and 5 years and a second for children ages 5-12 years. There are swings and slides, poles to climb, ladders to scale, beams to balance on, sand to dig and build upon and a cabin to hide in.
More than 90 percent of this playground was constructed of recycled materials and it is ADA Compliant. The purchase and construction of the park has been augmented by grants and private donations. The playscape is a multi-aged playground facility near Great Oak Middle School on Great Oak Road. The facility includes a stump walk, bell ringer, chimes and other activities.
Community Comes Together to Build It
Taxpayers voted overwhelmingly during a town meeting in June to appropriate $138,000 in town funds for the project. Much of the work to put up the playground was done by volunteers who gave up their weekends to make the project possible. Most of them were constructions workers, except for one, said First Selectman George Temple.
“What impressed me most about this project and surprised me – I don’t know why – is the amount of civic involvement” that went into this project, Temple said. “I watched them put together the pergola – they are all carpenters, all professional people, except for Adam Kinkel: that guy is a ball of fire and it amazed me at how he was able to coordinate this.”
Kinkel, a playscape committee member, organized many of the volunteers and put countless volunteer hours into making the project a reality.
“This has been absolutely amazing. The best part of this was meeting new friends in the community,” Kinkel said. “A lot of men and women came out to make this happen. …Working with them, I saw that they were just amazing workers. It was awesome. They made this project that much easier.
“People just came out in droves,” he said. “I made phone calls – every third Thursday or Friday before the weekends and everyone said, ‘Yep, I’ll be there.’ Nobody had one complaint: they worked really hard. And the park being named after Lily made it that much better for everybody.”
Brooks Family Thanks the Community
Jon and Amy Brooks, parents of Lily Brooks, submitted this letter to Oxford Patch:
We would like to sincerely thank our community of Oxford for helping us through this unbelievably difficult time. Our daughter Lily means the world to us. She brought us so much love and happiness. She was full of energy, excitement and laughter. Lily was the greatest daughter and most wonderful big sister. We miss her so much and it hurts so deeply, but we are so thankful for the time we had with her and the impact she has had on our lives.
We are also thankful for all of your thoughts, prayers, love and support.
They have brought us so much comfort. We struggle to find the words that can express the gratitude we feel. We are overwhelmed by your kindness and compassion and we feel truly blessed.
-- With thanks and love,
Jon, Amy, and Sebastian Brooks