DeKalb helps to build Barbland

By Chris Nelson

Where in DeKalb can a person find a haunted house mirror maze, lookout tower spaceship and a checkerboard large enough to have people as pawns?

With a little help from the DeKalb community, one will be able to find all of these things and more come September at Chesebro Elementary School, 900 Garden Road.

The Barbland Playground Project now is nearing the implementation stage to create a decidedly unique and safe playground for area children. The program was initiated by a group of concerned DeKalb citizens and uses no taxpayer funds. Therefore, the project relies heavily on donations and volunteers.

According to Dawn Wallin, coordinator of the volunteering efforts, the project is at a critical point and is in need of community support.

“At this point, we are trying to find ways to pay for the lumber necessary to build the playground structures,” Wallin said. “The high-quality lumber needed for the attractions is expensive. We have received money from groups such as the Kiwanis and various PTA organizations, yet we still need to raise about $20,000.

“We would welcome any help or ideas anyone might be able to provide,” Wallin added.

The project also is in need of volunteers for the actual construction of the park.

“It will be like an old-fashioned ‘barn raising,'” Wallin said. “We will be working from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on September 22 through September 26, during which time everything will be built.”

Wallin also said every volunteer will be fed and child care

ill be provided.

“When a similar project was carried out in Rochelle, over 3,000 people arrived to help out. It’s a very special park,” Wallin said.

The playground was designed by an architectural firm in New York that specializes in park projects. A representative of the firm came to the DeKalb community in late February to ask area children what types of rides and activities they would enjoy. The architect then tailored his designs to meet the children’s requests

The plans presented to the community were well-received. Made predominantly of wood, the structures are designed with safety in mind. Traditional playground rides, such as the merry-go-round, were replaced by safer and creative rides such as those mentioned earlier. Many of the attractions are also wheelchair accessible.

Wallin also said the new playground promises to compliment the surrounding environment.

“When driving up to such a playground, it is surprising how pretty it actually is,” Wallin said. “With its multi-level structure and high-grade wood, it looks more like someone’s deck rather than a conventional playground.”

Wallin said anyone and everyone can help the project. People interested in helping to raise funds are encouraged to contact Penny Elliot at 756-4033. Volunteers for the construction phase can call Sukey Blake at 758-8857.

Persons wanting to help prepare food and care for children during the September building days should contact Ann Beiswanger at 758-8616.