Assemblyman Robin Schimminger announced today that he has earmarked $10,000 in special state legislative funding to update the Stenzil Street playground in North Tonawanda.
"Iím pleased announce that I will be providing this legislative grant through the State Assembly so that the North Tonawanda Department of Youth, Recreation, Parks and Senior Citizens can begin to make needed improvements at the Stenzil Street playground," said Schimminger.
Schimminger credited Niagara County 9th District Legislator William M. Davignon for bringing the playground project to his attention. "Legislator Davignon contacted me back in March to see if any state funds might be available to upgrade the worn out facilities at this neighborhood play area. Bill also forwarded a petition circulated by David and Marie Alana Gardner and signed by dozens of their neighbors on Stenzil, East Felton and other nearby streets in support of this project."
"Many residents in the Gratwick area of North Tonawanda, including the students at St. Mark Lutheran School, use the Stenzil Street playground," said Davignon. "I want to thank the Gardners for their hard work in gathering the petition signatures to show community support and for bringing this situation to my attention. I also would like to thank Assemblyman Schimminger for once again delivering assistance to the residents of North Tonawanda. With the help of Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Whitehead, weíll be able to leverage this $10,000 from Assemblyman Schimminger to obtain a matching grant from the playground systemís manufacturer, giving North Tonawanda a total of nearly $20,000 in improvements at the Stenzil Street facility."
Davignon and Schimminger said that the state funds will be used to acquire and install a new playground system that meets ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. Plans call for a series of other enhancements at the playground that will be undertaken as additional funds become available, including a picnic shelter, a basketball court, park benches, and replacement of the current softball field backstop.
"Our Department appreciates the assistance provided by Assemblyman Schimminger and County Legislator Davignon. The state grant will allow us to take advantage of a grant program offered by the GAMETIME Playcore Company and provide an exciting playground system meeting all current safety and ADA standards. The infusion of the new equipment will certainly add to the safe enjoyment of the playground," said Jerome Whitehead, Director of Youth, Recreation and Parks for the City of North Tonawanda.
"The new equipment and proposed updates to the playground and park is wonderful news for our students and the entire neighborhood," said Kenneth L. Craig, Principal of St. Mark Lutheran School. "The outdated equipment presently in use poses a safety risk and does not lend itself to family use. I am grateful for the efforts of our school families and neighbors who signed the petition as well as our local representatives whose concern led to the securing of these long needed funds."
Schimminger explained that the Assembly funds are from an appropriation for legislative grants contained in the 2003-04 state budget that had been held up over a disagreement between the Governor and the State Legislature on how the funds were to be released. The Governor, the Senate and the Assembly recently reached an agreement specifying the process for disbursing the monies, allowing the funding process to commence.
"We are pleased that the city can now begin to renovate this playground and create a safe and exciting play area for neighborhood children and an inviting setting in which families can gather," said Schimminger and Davignon.