The dilapidated playground at Joey’s Park in Belmont was reduced to splinters and dust last week as a local organization demolished the structures to make way for a new playground this fall.
The towers, tunnels, and slides that became part of many a childhood memory over the last 24 years were ripped down by a powerful excavator on Monday, according to leaders of Friends of Joey’s Park, the group of volunteers responsible for the new playground project.
“It’s quite emotional,” said Diane Miller, cochairwoman of the organization. “Like so many other people, I have wonderful memories of my children playing on this structure. It’s difficult to say goodbye, but we are excited to preserve the park’s name and an amazing community legacy with a new Joey’s Park.”
The park, built in 1989 in memory of a local boy who died at age 12 from cystic fibrosis, closed briefly in 2011 after a safety review raised concerns, and reopened temporarily only after some play equipment was removed.
Now, community members are using funds from a capital campaign to renovate the playground on Cross Street as part of an old-fashioned community barn-raising.
The new playground will maintain both the castle-like feel of the old play structure and the park’s natural elements, organizers said.
Professional playground builders from Play By Design will oversee volunteers during the six-day construction project, slated for Oct. 9-14.
There will also be a groundwork phase from Sept. 27-29, when community volunteers will place the posts for the new play structure and build several features such as benches, tables, a deck, and a pergola.
“There’s a good deal of work that needs to be completed before we can actually begin to build,” Miller said.
More than 1,000 Belmont residents — typically about 75 to 150 at a time — are slated to help build the new playground, officials said.
“We are going to have a beautiful playground,” said Ellen Schreiber, also a cochairwoman of Friends of Joey’s Park. “Like the current one it will be one of a kind and built by the community. We are confident that any inconvenience now will be far outweighed by the finished product.”
To find out more about the project, visit the group’s website, www.joeyspark.org.