Oxford First Selectman George Temple said he wants to provide more recreational opportunities for local children, and now he's trying to stay true to his word.
Temple announced Wednesday night that he's put the wheels into motion to build a new plascape for Oxford children.
“The goal is to make something for the younger children in town, those ages two to 10, in the same manner as Castles in the Park in Seymour,” Temple said.
Castles in the Park, located at Gary Park, is a fantasy-like, wooden playscape, built by hundreds of volunteers over a five-day period several years ago. Complete with many bells and whistles - like a pirate ship, challenging rope bridges, built-in sandboxes and swings galore - Castles is something Temple has always wanted to see right here in Oxford.
“I’m looking for moms and dads with young kids who want to help out,” Temple said. “Together, we can have something great (like Castles) in our own community.”
Selectmen voted to form the New Oxford Playscape Planning and Building Committee, or NOPPBC, to get the ball rolling.
The committee will be charged, in part, with exploring options for a suitable site for the playscape, as well as planning and coordinating construction. The committee will work closely with selectmen, who will ultimately decide on the final project.
As a starting point, Temple suggested the committee check out the flat piece of town-owned property on Great Oak Road, located between School and . Temple said with a proposed for land across the street from there, the parcel would be a “centrally located and safe place for recreation.”
However, Selectman Dave McKane, who also supports the project, raised some points about that area being heavily used, especially during spring and summer, with softball, baseball and other programs that take place on the nearby fields. He said the parcel is often “jam-packed with cars.”
The area also serves as a popular viewing spot for the town’s annual fireworks display.
Regardless of what location the committee selects, Temple said the goal is to give kids more places to play.
“When my own son, Andy, was little, I thought Oxford could do a lot more for kids his age, and building a new playscape like this would fulfill a real need in town,” Temple said.
Temple said the project can be done relatively inexpensively, saying the Castles project cost about $4,000 in lumber and materials. He said two professionals came in on the “build days” and assisted the masses of volunteers in erecting the playscape.
Volunteers brought in their own tools, and the community rallied together in providing snacks and drinks for the workers, which Temple is hoping to replicate here.
Selectman Jeff Haney actually volunteered his time to the Castles build, working two out of the five days, and said he can’t wait to make something like that happen in Oxford.
“There were over 300 volunteers who showed up each day; it was quite an event,” Haney said. “Everyone from age 5 to 55 had a job. It was a very big community effort.”
Temple thinks Oxford residents will jump onboard with the idea, and he encourages those interested in serving on the new committee to contact his office at Town Hall.