Playground production

The scene at the lower end of Prospect Park Friday afternoon was grim:

A muddy field under gray skies, with about 15 volunteers doggedly hacking and chopping with shovels and digging bars at the sides and bottoms of holes bored with an auger mounted on a mini-loader.

No one talked much.

It’s the prelude to what should be a more cheerful scene today, Sunday and into next week, as volunteers assemble the largest complex of playground equipment in the area, next to the wooden park at Legion Field in Hollidaysburg.

And that will be a prelude to what should be a potentially pleasanter scene, when the workers release the complex – constructed as a cooperative venture between the Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission and the Booker T. Washington Revitalization Committee – to neighborhood kids.

The Prospect Park “build” was a day-and-a-half behind schedule, due to a grading issue and the rain this week, said Kathy Plunkett, president of Booker T. committee and Dave Cunningham, a committee member.

But that delay was actually was helping the organizations get ahead across town at Memorial Park in Juniata, because some of the Prospect volunteers went there to swell a contingent of workers there, who are building a similar complex of steel, rubber and plastic – but only a quarter as big, Cunningham said.

The committee members expect the work at Memorial to be done today, which will enable all the workers to descend on Prospect for Sunday.

A pair of employees from PlayTime, the equipment manufacturer, was supervising the volunteers at each site.

The workers were digging 113 post holes at Prospect, with depths that varied, depending on the weight of the equipment the posts in each hole will support, Cunningham said.

The deepest hole was 30 inches.

The bottom of each hole needs to be flat, so the concrete block tablet that will serve as a footer will be level, Plunkett said.

Workers will fill the holes around the posts with concrete only after installation of all the equipment, to allow for adjustments during installation, Plunkett said.

After the pour, workers will spread mulch, Cunningham said.

A total of about 40 workers were on the jobs Friday.

Officials are hoping for about 60 today and Sunday.

The complexes will resemble the one at the Booker T. Washington recreation area in Fifth Ward, Plunkett said.

That complex was built in a day, she said.

Fortunately, Friday was cool, which meant that the workers in the mud at Prospect weren’t sweating.

The sweat was running free on the day of the Booker T. build, she said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler was at 949-7038.