Take a stroll through Montgomery Park, the Dryden village-owned park located off Elm Street behind the Dryden Hotel, and you won’t see much. A rundown slide. A swing set with no swings. Some basketball courts, along with a skate park, lacking aesthetic appeal.
The Montgomery Park Revitalization group hopes to change all of that. The village formed the Montgomery Park Comprehensive Planning Committee to coordinate this effort. The committee is comprised of village residents David Cutter, Debbie Fisher, Mary Kirkwyland, Kevin Laubaker, Susanna VanSant, and Michael Hattery. The committee’s public relations coordinator is Cathy Wakeman.
The first step of the revitalization’s phase one will be building a playground. The first step of that is designing a playground, which will occur later this month. The Montgomery Park Playground Design Day Celebration is slated for Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Dryden Elementary School Gym.
“There’s three phases to the entire plan,” Wakeman explained. “The one part of phase one is the park design. The focus is on the playground right now. The playground design is our first focus. The way Play By Design works is, they have a design day. The elementary students will all have a day to meet with the designer and draw their designs on May 23 and May 24. Everyone gets to draw his or her dream. Then the designer will take the afternoon, and go in an undisturbed room and come up with a playground draft, and then in the evening, we get to celebrate.”
“We’ll have root beer floats and popcorn,” she added, “and we’ll possibly have some student led music on-hand, but that’s not official yet. The build itself will happen in October. And a three-dimensional rendering of the design will be unveiled at Dairy Day. The community build, which is October 3 through October 8, will involve volunteers and three shifts a day. We still need plenty of volunteers, highlighted by a materials manager.”
Wakeman also gave a little more information about the history of the upcoming project.
“Under Mayor Zimmer,” she recalled, “they received a [$3,000] grant to hire a park planner. So Rick Manning, who designed the Cass Park Trail, was hired to lead the revitalization plan for Montgomery Park. The Montgomery Park Revitalization Committee took a year, had various open houses and presentations, took that information and Rick designed a plan and submitted it to the village board which was approved in January of this year.”
Wakeman noted heavy community involvement in every aspect would be needed for the Montgomery revitalization to come to fruition, starting with the playground, which calls for $80,000 to $100,000 being raised. Dryden Sertoma – a 501c3 organization – is leading the charge for playground donations for the committee.
“The effect Montgomery Park used to have on this community was huge,” Wakeman said. “We’re hoping to get it headed back in that direction. We would love to see a lot of community involvement because it’s our playground, our park, and right here in the community. It’s connected to so many good things. People can get to it from so many different places in the community. It’s very walkable because it’s in the middle of the population center. Parks are made to be filled with children and their families having fun, and we look forward to seeing that again. The community support for this project has been great so far, hopefully it continues. The design day celebration should be a lot of fun. For those that want to catch a sneak peek, and see the input kids put in and what the designers came up with, it should be great. It’s also the official start to our fundraising effort, so come out and buy a root beer float, and how else you want to get involved. We need skilled and unskilled volunteers alike. So come see what you are qualified to help out with.”