To The Daily Sun,
About 37 years ago, a small group of Meredith parents came together to start the present I-LES PTO, with the first expressed purpose of building playgrounds at the Lang Street School and at I-LES. After much research, a variety of play areas, all created from tires, were professionally designed, with fund-raising to follow. On the day of installation, it seemed like the entire town showed up to volunteer in one way or another, and all of the kids were ecstatic, especially with the big Tire-tanic ship!
At an I-LHS graduation some years later, I listened to Superintendent Dr. Gary Burton give a memorable commencement speech. Paraphrasing, he told the seniors to go into the world and explore new things, but when they were ready to start families, come home if they could. If not, wherever they landed, he emphasized, they should work to make a difference in their communities.
Presently, while going to sporting, school, and music events to watch my grandkids, I run into local "kids" everywhere, now with families of their own. Some have become volunteer coaches, scout leaders, PTO members, and many help out in numerous ways. Several have come together with others to create a new Friends of Meredith Parks & Recreation organization, planning first to rebuild the town's skateboard park, transforming the dangerous, wooden structure into an artistic design of concrete, usable for all ages, long into the future.
Fund-raising efforts have been successful to date, including Brendan Hart's contest winning video, skateboarding down some big bumps (not a technical term) in France, looking like he's going about 80 mph, all while playing a harmonica. He has donated his winnings from the Hohner Harmonica Company to the park and has set up a Go Fund Me page as well. In spite of the grass roots efforts thus far, there was a minor snag, as the group's non-profit status had lapsed at some point in the past. Thanks to Linda Hart's major effort, before tragically and unexpectedly passing away recently, the Friends of Meredith Parks & Rec are now awaiting the needed IRS paperwork.
Government does not work very quickly however, and available grants cannot be submitted without a 501(c)(3), so a petitioned article has been written for the Meredith town warrant, asking taxpayers to invest $25,000 in the park. The money will show good faith that this project is a benefit to the town and also give some dollars to match future and existing fund-raising. After acquiring the required signatures, three committee members, Pete Thorndike, Joan Clinton Aiken, and John Lakis presented the petition, as well as budget and design information for the park, to the Selectboard.
The next step involves the voters of Meredith. Please come to the March 13 Town Meeting at 7 p.m. in the I-LHS gym to vote in favor of this article and keep this fund-raising effort moving along. Donations can also be made to Friends of Meredith Parks and Rec and dropped off at the Community Center, 1 Circle Drive, Meredith, N.H. 03253.
I really love seeing that so many of the "kids" who watched their parents build those school playgrounds long ago, then continued on with many more town and school projects, are now making memories for their kids. My own grandkids cannot wait to try the beautiful, new Hart Family Memorial Skateboard Park at Prescott Park!