Bath Dad launches plan for ship-themed community playground

A climbing structure is one item suggested by a resident who wants to add a public playground to Bath, which now only has one in the whole city. Contributed / John Byram

A new ship can be anchored in the City of Ships if a boat-shaped play structure is built in the Library Park.

John Byram, a stay-at-home dad with three children under 5, noticed when moving from Boston to Bath last year that the city had only one community playground. He worked with city ​​officials to see if a playground can be built in the park at 43 Summer St.

“The idea is that it would be a private fundraiser,” Byram said. “I hope local businesses can help out, but we understand that tax-wise it’s been a tough few years. We estimate a timeframe of two to three years for fundraising.

He estimates the project, including long-term maintenance, will likely cost around $500,000.

Although there are playgrounds at local schools, Byram said her young family cannot use these playgrounds during the school year.

To gauge the community’s opinion, Byram polls the people of Bath.

“I felt it was important to know how the community as a whole feels. So far it has been overwhelming support,” he said. “Almost every parent I spoke to in person, as well as a number of comments on the survey, said we needed something more than we have.”

According to data from Byram’s Bath at Play website, 189 out of 194 respondents support the installation of a playground and 173 support the proposed location in Library Park.

It is also open to other potential sites.

“If there is a generous citizen who has an empty piece of land that meets the requirements and is willing to donate that land, that would speed things up,” Byram said.

Bath’s only public playground is not shaded and after around 10 a.m. “it gets really hot,” Byram said. “The other element is that it’s not within reasonable walking distance of the city center.”

John Byram offers residents several options for a new playground so residents can select which ones they want to include. Contributed / John Byram

Byram said he chose a ship structure for the playground because “the city of ships needs a nautical-themed playground.”

Because he wanted the play structures to be made from durable materials, the decision was made to go with wood.

“We want to keep things durable and natural, not the traditional, brightly colored metal and plastic,” he said.

Byram’s initial proposal included a larger ship structure, a smaller boat, and a swing, but with the understanding that it all depends on location.

“If we need a smaller space, we may have to limit what can go down to structures,” he said.

Byram began the process of incorporating his new organization, Bath at Play, as a nonprofit to move forward in obtaining federal tax-exempt status as a charitable organization.

“Going forward, I hope our experiences here in Bath will enable Bath at Play to be a platform for other Maine communities that need additional or renewed community play spaces,” a- he declared.

Library Park is owned by the city, and Byram met with the community development committee to gain their support before presenting the proposal to city council.

“There are so many great ideas for how to make Bath a more playful city and the committee is just beginning the process of thinking about the possibilities,” said Emily Ruger, director of the community and economic development committee. “We want our city to be an attractive place for families with young children, so this is an important conversation.”

Playgrounds are important, he said.

“Playgrounds in any community are cornerstones for children and families. They serve as meeting places for families and neighbors and help foster friendships that can last a lifetime,” Byram said, and “a well-designed play area helps children’s creativity and cognitive development.”

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