A piece of playground equipment that was erroneously sent to Riverhead Town nearly a decade ago and kept in storage because town officials couldn’t get the company that sent it to take it back, is now part of Bayberry Park in Wading River, at a greatly reduced price, according to Councilwoman Catherine Kent and town parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne.
Bayberry Park, also known as Police Officer’s Memorial Park, is one of two town playgrounds that were unofficially opened on Monday, the other being the playground at the George Young Community Center in Jamesport.
Town Board members and members of the town’s Recreation Advisory Committee held ceremonial “grand openings” at both sites Monday.
“It took us years to negotiate the price because we couldn’t just put it up without paying for it,” Mr. Coyne said of the erroneously sent piece of playground equipment.
The price of the playground equipment started at about $40,000, then the company that sent it knocked that price down to $19,000, Mr. Coyne said.
But that was still high enough to require the town to get bids on it, he said.
Eventually, the playground equipment was negotiated down to $5,000 and installed at Bayberry Park, according to Mr. Coyne, who credited Ms. Kent with pushing the issue.
“In the end, it was all good,” she said.
The new equipment at both the Jamesport and Bayberry parks were paid for with money from the community benefit fund the town received from the solar energy company sPower, according to Councilman Tim Hubbard.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the town stands to get additional community development funds from a new solar project in Calverton, Nextera.
Normally, the town gets recreation fees from residential home developers, but those haven’t been as easy to come by in recent years as residential development has slowed down.
“It’s just great to upgrade the equipment that we have,” said Brian Mills, chair of the town’s recreation advisory committee.
He said the volunteer board “tries to reach out to the community and see what it is that needs to be fixed,upgraded or what people want to add. That’s how we come up with these ideas. We’re just excited to have new playground equipment.”
“As a [retired] teacher and a parent, I can speak to the importance of free play in childhood development,” said Ms. Kent, who is the Town Board liaison to the Recreation Advisory Committee. “Research shows that such play allows children to use their creativity thus developing their imagination, dexterity and other skills. Due to the restrictions of the COVID virus, outdoor activities are now more needed than ever.”