BULLARD — With shovels in hand and smiles on their faces, children helped break ground Thursday on Bullard's new playground project.
Bullard Rotary Club member Guy Martin, adviser to the project steering committee, said the ceremony served as a visible symbol to the Bullard community that construction has begun, and also raises awareness of what the playground committee is trying to do.
The $315,000 community-built project, temporarily called Bullard Kids' Park, will entail two areas — one for younger children and one for older children. Jane Holman, a design representative from architectural company Leathers & Associates, told residents in May the equipment also allows for a lot of visibility so parents can keep a close watch on their children. Playgrounds created by the company also have areas accessible to children with disabilities.
The park will include pavilions, restrooms and misters, and is set to be built from recycled materials. It will entail some nautical-theme pieces, such as an activity-based boat, as well as other pieces.
Rebekah said she's glad she'll have a park where she can hang out with friends, and is excited they will have “a big, nice playground to play in.”
Nine-year-old Hayden Jeffus said he too is excited for it to be built, and 9-year-old Libby Eitel said she's looking forward to being part of the construction process.
Parents also had positive things to say.
Donna Jeffus, a parent and member of the project steering committee, said the project is an example of one of the many reasons her family moved to Bullard.
As a committee member, she said she's also ready to see the project come together.
She added, “It brings out all people to work together for something positive.”
Ashlee Jones, who has three children, echoed Ms. Jeffus, saying she believes the project is great for the town, and she's looking forward to community involvement.
Infrastructure and dirt work, such as constructing the restrooms and picnic areas, is expected to begin in about three weeks and continue for the rest of the year.
Installation of playground equipment will take place Jan. 16-20, and an estimated 1,200 volunteers will be needed to work four-hour shifts. Once completed, the city of Bullard will be responsible for its repair and maintenance.
In the meantime, there are various ways committees are raising funds for the playground, one of which is through donations.
Martin said there also are more than 800 pickets in the fence that surrounds the park, and each picket will be engraved with a child's name. The pickets are being sold by the project steering committee.
Handprints also are being sold, so children can have their handprint memorialized in the park.
“The whole point of the project is to build the community and give them ownership of something in the area,” Rachel Johnson, public relations chairwoman for the project, said in June. “We're looking to have visitors from Chandler, Jacksonville ... Chapel Hill (and other towns). This is being built for everyone, but Bullard is a central location for this project. We're trying to get out community awareness and what it will do for kids.”
Initially, the idea for the park came from a conversation with a couple of mothers.
One went to a similar park in another part of the country and another went to one in Longview, Martin has said, and they wondered whether Bullard could have a park like they saw. So the idea got to the rotary club, and members found Leathers & Associates, which creates community-built playgrounds.
The rotary club funded the initial cost of the project to get consultants involved, and the community will help assemble the playground. For now, the park is called Bullard Kids' Park, but will later officially be named by local students.
“It's going to bring a lot of people into Bullard,” Martin has said. “This is the style of facility that moms and grandmothers like to be able to bring children to. It's just going to be a big draw for Bullard. It's not only going to be a recreational resource but an economic resource for the community.”
David Detten, general manager with WRL General Contractors, agreed, telling Thursday's crowd, “It's a great project, (and) we're looking forward to getting going with it.”
For more information on volunteering or making a donation, call 903-707-2183 or visit www.facebook.com/bullardtexascommunityplayground.