Facing a grant application deadline, Chestertown Town Council voted to approve a request for a $200,000 grant from Maryland Community Parks and Playgrounds to create a playground at Wilmer Park.
The Parks and Playground provides funding for restoration and creation of parks in Maryland cities and towns. Chestertown has benefitted from them previously with grants for creating Gateway Park, the Bailey Dog Park, and others.
Placement of the playground at Wilmer Park would leave the Ajax basketball half-court on Cross St. intact and open for ideas to renovate it.
Ward 1 Councilman David Foster administered the meeting during Mayor Cerino’s vacation.
Citing a groundswell of public support both for the retention of Ajax court and the playground at Wilmer Park, Foster opened a discussion to any address concerns.
Charles Lerner, a resident living next to the park, conveyed his concern that the playground concept as submitted would overpopulate the park during the pandemic period and contradict the natural serenity of the area. He agreed with the need for the playground to boost activities for young families but felt the current model from Berliner Company was unattractive and suggested that the council and Recreation Committee look at models more fitting to park aesthetics and that rather having one large playground to consider modular playground equipment spread over a wider area.
Jen Baker, co-owner of Chester River Wine and Cheese Company suggested the Recreation Committee talk to local designers to evaluate the Berliner playground options that would address possible noise issues.
Rebecca Murphy, owner of RCM Strategic Consulting, supported having Ajax court revitalized and the playground located at Wilmer Park.
Local businessman Frank Rhodes offered an overview of Ajax’s court’s generational history and that its creation to offer youth wider access to activities was a good example of how the Town has valued works that enhance the community. With local fundraising and some help from the Town, Rhodes felt that the area could once again be a healthy activity center.
The Council agreed that applying for the grant would still allow time to make different design choices for the playground and looked forward to dialogue with the public.
Here are a few minutes from the discussion, featuring Charles Lerner, Jennifer Baker, Frank Rhodes and Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz.
The Monday Aug 3 council meeting will hear the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice’s presentation about the proposed Black Lives Matter street mural.
This video is approximately six minutes in length