Temple Has Plans for New Children's Playscape in Oxford

The Board of Selectmen formed a new committee this week geared to create a play are like Seymour's "Castles in the Park" fantasy playground for town children.

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.


george temple January 20, 2012 at 08:46 AM
Beth Thank you for your complaint but I have already addressed the deplorable state of our tennis courts with the parks and rec director. We are going to inspect our courts next week and will decide what to do. I don't believe in allowing town facilities to deteriorate. I don't like the location of the courts behind the middle school and they exist as a monument for neglect. We have a very generous donation for the construction of new courts. The middle school location would be a perfect place for a garden to raise produce for our less fortunate citizens. I think that would be a grreat lesson to our school children. not just in agriculture but in helping less fortunate. We already have a fence to keep out the deer and rabbits. What do you think?
Ed Rowland January 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM
All are great ideas.I would be glad to show up for an afternoon to help out.This would build community spirit and have everyone working together.Almost like an Amish barn raising.Please keep me in mind George.
RAK January 20, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I love the idea of the new playscape for our younger children. We already have two very nice one's (Jackson's Cove and Posy). As for the one at Center, it definately needs to be re-vamped. I know this sounds a bit over-kill, but if the town plans on building a new park at a new location, can we look at the costs of constructing a sprinkler park somewhere ( maybe seek charitable donations from some of the businesses in town)? I've seen some at other towns and the kids just love them. We all know, there are alot of kids in Oxford. Just a thought. Also, the need to address the tennis courts condition is a must. As for the garden, what a great idea to teach the children of this town how to grow and maintain one. Count me in George.
E Twig January 20, 2012 at 06:05 PM
How can you plan a garden for GOMS when you can't use the track when school is going on?
Patti Schippani January 21, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Great idea. As an FYI, there are a couple of boys who used their high school Capstone Project last year to design a skatepark and look for possible funding for one for the area across from Great Oak. They did speak to the head of Parks and Rec in Oxford and Newtown where one was recently built. They spent a lot of time with the research and worked with mentors to get the design drawn. This was a project that was brought up years ago in town and I think mapped out but then let go by the town. I am assuming because of funding. They tried to give this project a rebirth Please keep this in mind, also, as you move forward to look for activities for the children of Oxford.


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