By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — As her excitement grew, Daisy Gabriel and her fellow fifth-graders from Esperanza Academy started to get a little jittery.
They waited patiently for the politicians to finish speaking and the red ribbon to be cut. Then, finally, they could make the mad dash they’d been waiting for, to the swings, monkey bars and slide.
They were among the first to inaugurate the newly revamped playground at the newly renovated Campagnone Common. The park’s renovation unfolded over three years, at a cost of $1.45 million, funded mainly through grants. This is the first time in 30 years the common has been updated.
“It’s a very exciting day for me, as a resident for 35 years, to be able to spruce up this gem of a common,” said project manager Susan Fink, who is the manager of financial and administrative services for the City’s Community Development Department.
Campagnone Common, a 17.5-acre public park in the heart of downtown across from City Hall, was given to Lawrence by the Essex Company on Oct. 1, 1848. Originally called Lawrence Common, it was designed in part by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.
Mayor William Lantigua was happy to see the students as well as other children playing as their parents watched.
“Our intent was to bring peace of mind to parents while children exercise. I hope we can do the same with the South Common,” he said.
During phase one, 39 overhead lights mounted on telephone poles were replaced with LED lights, a new underground electrical conduit was installed and two tree-lined paths were restored.
Phase two included expanding the playground by 1,800 square feet, making it 30 percent bigger than the previous one, said Brad Buschur, project director at Groundwork Lawrence. Highlights include areas featuring hopscotch, numbers and measurement units.
“Teachers can use these tools as an educational opportunity,” he said.
The playground equipment itself is soft green, chosen to blend with the landscape.
“This common means so much to so many people,” Buschur said. “We did not want one thing to stand out over another.”
Heather McMann, executive director of Groundwork Lawrence, said the park’s renovation fits in well with the city’s new program designed to fight obesity.
“By looking around the park you can see that exercise can be fun and it doesn’t have to be a chore,” she said. “Each open space has its fit into the city. We have to celebrate each small piece as part of a whole.”
Money for the common’s renovations came from the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Block Grant, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Lawrence Redevelopment Authority and The Community Builders Inc. $45,607.
Campagnone Common improvements 24 benches 39 overhead lights replaced with LEDs 4 trash receptacles Playground expanded by 1,800 square feet, making it 30 percent bigger 6 game tables with chairs 8 street corners upgraded to meet the American with Disability Act standards 55 trees planted 754 feet of sidewalk revamped