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Playground construction starts at Grey Preserve

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Published:   |   Updated: January 28, 2014 at 05:24 PM

NEW PORT RICHEY — With three sons of James E. Grey as longtime members, Rotary Club of New Port Richey leaders wanted to do something special for the Grey Preserve, which bears the name of the local pioneer.

As the only city park without a playground, the Grey Preserve will soon gain a place where youngsters can romp, thanks to Rotary contributions and a district grant.

That’s the word from Craig McCart, who got the ball rolling on the project last year during his term as president of New Port Richey Rotary.

Crews began delivering the playground parts and supplies Friday afternoon for preliminary setup, McCart reported. Construction will begin in earnest Monday and Tuesday.

Invitations are going out for the ribbon cutting on the new playground, to be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, through Parks and Recreation Director Elaine Smith. For information about the ceremony call the Parks and Recreation Department at (727) 841-4560.

Rotary District 6950 provided a Future Visions matching grant of about $5,000. Rotary Club of New Port Richey provided the bulk of funds.

The parks department handled site preparation.

The local club also got discounts that brought down the list price. The playground is paid for, McCart pointed out.

The addition could attract more visitors to the 80-acre site tucked away among woods along the Pithlachascotee River, Rotary officials hope.

The GameTime playground could accommodate children ages 2-5 as well as areas suited for youths 5-12 years old, McCart explained.

The playground would be placed in an open area in the middle of the picnic pavilions at the preserve.

The Grey Preserve already has restrooms, a canoe launch area, a half-mile boardwalk through the forest, a fishing pier, two miles of hiking trails, a special-event pavilion and more, according to the Rotary grant application.

About 140 types of birds call the preserve home, so it’s no mystery why the area is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

The preserve “offers spectacular viewing opportunities for deer, wild boars, turtles and manatees,” the grant writer pointed out.

Earth tone colors will help blend the playground with its surroundings, McCart observed.

“They wanted to get the best bang for their buck,” Jim Sims said previously last June as territory manager for Dominica Recreation Products and Game Time. Based in Longwood, north of Orlando, DRP holds franchise rights in Florida to GameTime products, based in Fort Payne, Ala., northwest of Atlanta.

Billed as a “turnkey approach to your perfect playground,” the GameTime equipment would include installation and a three-year warranty, Sims said during a phone interview.

Sims worked before with city officials on a Frances Avenue Park project.

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