BAINBRIDGE — Not long after the board of trustees gave the green light to begin fundraising for the replacement of playground equipment at River Road Park back in February, it seemed as though the world was against them.

But as of Monday night, efforts to replace the equipment are back in play after trustees restated their intentions to move forward with fundraising for the playground after coming to a general agreement to begin reaching out to groups for the initiative.

“Just as everything was going to come together,” Trustee Chairwoman Kristina O’Brien said, listing that the township had agreed on a specific playground system, a couple residents had already donated some funds and there were groups that had come forward saying they would match donations and the Bainbridge Service Department was able to correct the drainage of the playground among other things in motion, “the whole world shut down with [COVID-19].”

After state-mandated shutdowns due to COVID-19, Mrs. O’Brien said fundraising “stopped in its tracks,” pointing out that no one would have felt right asking for donations for the playground while people may be out of work and struggling to put food on their tables.

She said in talks with members of the parent committee, they agreed that now is the time to bring back the fundraising efforts.

“We had a lot of interest from a lot of residents, a lot of people from surrounding communities,” Mrs. O’Brien said of people’s support of replacing the equipment that was razed last summer due to deteriorating and unsafe conditions.

In February, the board had agreed to move forward with equipment from Snider Recreation, Inc. of Youngstown, totaling an estimated $168,800. The township plans to supply $80,000 toward the playground and had earmarked $20,000 for the drainage repairs.

The township was also looking into the possibility of obtaining a NatureWorks grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources with the help of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, which she said would have gotten the township close to its fundraising goal combined with the earmarked funds. But Mrs. O’Brien said Monday that ODNR has stopped all admissions until 2021, which means the township wouldn’t receive the potential grant until October 2021.

“It’s a tough time,” she said, hoping that if the trustees get the ball rolling with at least the general agreement and getting word out that the township is accepting donations, they can replace the playground sooner rather than later.

Whether it be $1, $10, $100 or $1000, Mrs. O’Brien said, “every dollar counts.”

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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