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Casey Park playground meeting

Play By Design playground designer Laura Sehn leads a public meeting for the new Casey Park playground Wednesday night at Casey Park Elementary School. 

AUBURN — Auburn residents had the opportunity to give their input on designs for the new school playground during a public meeting at Casey Park Elementary School on Wednesday night. 

City staff is working with Play by Design to construct an inclusive, community-built playground that can be used by all children, regardless of any disabilities or physical handicaps. The company has designed playgrounds at Montgomery Park in Dryden and Our Space Park in Binghamton

During the meeting, attendees were able to offer their ideas to incorporate into the playground, ask questions and see some designs Casey Park students have already come up with. Students from the school were asked to help with the design by drawing their dream playgrounds. Some common elements the students asked for were a zip line, climbing wall, ball pit, tree house and slides.

"We truly can customize the playground to be exactly what your community needs," said Laura Sehn, a playground designer at Play By Design. 

What is unique about Play By Design, Sehn said, is their playgrounds are built by volunteers from the community. Play By Design staff designs the playground and orders the pieces, but the community members are the ones who put it together.  

Sehn said all the playground builds are completed in six days — construction starts on Tuesday and the playground opens Sunday. Each day is split into three different volunteer shifts, with 80 people working each shift. Businesses and individuals are needed to donate tools and food.    

"Community builds are really good at pulling the community together and that's what makes our build a lot different than just bringing in a pre-made, metal playground," Sehn said. "It helps create a more tight-knit community."

Auburn's playground will be between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet, Sehn said, and include equipment for children ages 2 to 12. The $215,000 project will be funded through the city's federal Community Development Block Grant allocations. The build is likely to take place near the end of April or beginning of May, Senior Planner Renee Jensen said. 

Several community members at the meeting said they would like to see a section of the playground that teenagers could use. Sehn said that is an option, but might not fit into the city's project budget. She said equipment for teens could be added in the future. Residents also said having inclusive equipment was important.     

Sisters Patty LeBlanc and Brenda Costello, both lifelong Auburn residents and members of Kiwanis, said they were excited about the project. 

"It's going to help the pool attendance, it's going to help Doubledays, it's going to increase exposure," LeBlanc said. "It's all going to go hand-in-hand."

For more information or to sign up to volunteer, contact the Office of Planning and Economic Development at (315) 255-4115 or email Tiffany Beebee tbeebee@auburnny.gov or Jensen rjensen@auburnny.gov.

Staff writer Natalie Brophy can be reached at (315)282-2239 or natalie.brophy@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @brophy_natalie. 

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City Reporter