By Terry Rogers
A project that began several years ago when members of several local Rotary Clubs accepted the challenge came to life on Wednesday, December 4 when a large group of city and state officials, along with the many volunteers that made the project happen attended a ribbon cutting for the new Can-Do Playground in Milford. The playground is designed so that children of all abilities can enjoy outdoor play, and is located in the Tony Silicato Memorial Park, behind the Boys and Girls Club on Delaware Veteran’s Boulevard.
“This has been quite an effort,” said David Rutt, chairman of the project. “When you see it on paper it is one thing, but to see it here it is so much different. We have been working on this project for six years. We thought about it, hoped for it and I have to say that the people of Milford have been wonderful in bringing this project together. In the words of Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams, ‘we built it and they will come.’ In fact, I’ve been by here several times and have already seen children enjoying the equipment.”
The project actually began more than ten years ago when Wilmington area Rotary Clubs developed a mission to create the first Can-Do Playground in Delaware. They partnered with the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation, and the first playground opened on July 7, 2007 in Alapocos Run State Park. The project was such a success that several Rotary Clubs from central and southern Delaware joined forces to build a similar playground in southern Delaware. The Harrington-Greenwood-Felton Centennial Rotary (Hub Club), Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary, Milford Rotary, Milford-Mispillion Rotary, Nanticoke-Seaford Rotary and Rehoboth Sunrise Rotary all participated in bringing the project to fruition.
In 2009, Milford agreed to find a location for the project, and the Tony Silicato Memorial Park was selected due to its zoning as open space, soccer and general use fields, as well as the expansive walking space available. Originally, the group planned to build the playground in a wooded area between Delaware Hospice and the Greater Milford Boys and Girls Club, but soon realized that using existing equipment on the playground created for the Boys and Girls Club was a better option.
“The playground for the Boys and Girls Club was not completed yet,” said Gary Emory, Director of Milford Parks and Recreation, who partnered with the Rotary to complete the project. “They agreed to let us put the playground here, using their existing equipment. Every piece of that equipment is incorporated in the playground that exists now, and that was a savings of about $50,000.”
Organizers say that there will be an official grand opening ceremony in the spring, but that they wanted the public to know that the Can-Do Playground is open and ready for children of all abilities to enjoy.