Nearly 100 members of the Geneva and Hobart and William Smith communities gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, officially marking the opening of the Geneva Community Lakefront Playground on shore of Seneca Lake.
Just days before more than 250 members of the Geneva and HWS communities worked to install the playground equipment on a pie-shaped parcel of grassy space on the western end of the city-owned park. The playground is located near the pedestrian tunnel under Routes 5&20 and the Long Pier. “What better backdrop than the shore of Seneca Lake to demonstrate a community working together,” said City Manager Mathew Horn. “This playground represents the best of Geneva.”
The playground is a part of a collaborative project between Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva Community Projects and the City of Geneva through the KaBOOM! organization.
“We built it together,” remarked Belinda Venuti, president of Geneva Community Projects.
The ribbon cutting comes only 16 months after KaBOOM! founder and CEO Darell Hammond was on campus to deliver the 2011-2012 Convocation address. KaBOOM! is a national organization dedicated to saving play for America’s children by building playgrounds across the country. Since its inception in 1995, the organization has built thousands of playgrounds throughout the U.S.
Community organizers set out to create a new public playspace for Geneva’s children and a long-lasting community building project. The success is marked with “shared vision and teamwork,” said Jeremy Wattles, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at the Colleges.
Recently, Geneva was named a “2012 Playful City USA” for the community’s effort to increase play for children. Only one of two cities in the state to receive this title, the Let’s Play group awarded the Geneva community with a $20,000 grant to be used toward the project.
“No one’s doing what Geneva’s doing. Working together in a collaborative spirit, Geneva did this together,” said Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “It’s what this community is becoming known for.”
Due to overwhelming support, the project exceeded its initial fall goal of $100,000. The Geneva Community Lakefront Playground Committee has set a new goal of reaching a total of $120,000 by the spring. In an effort to do so, the HWS and Geneva communities will partner on two additional fundraising events. On Sunday, Nov. 4, there will be a “Relay for Play” event held at the Bristol Field House on the HWS campus.
Another effort is being organized by the Smith Opera House and its Director Kelly Bradley. The “Battle of the Bands” fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, when local bands will compete to raise money in support of the playground build.