By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, July 22 — Community leaders and residents gathered at Shenandoah‘s WigWam Village on Tuesday to cut the ribbon on two new pieces of equipment as part of an ongoing effort to update the aging park.
“A little over 30 years ago, people in this town saw a need for something like this, and it became the WigWam Village,” Mayor Clinton Lucas Jr. told those gathered for the ribbon cutting. “Over time, the equipment became worn out and it was getting dangerous. So we had to start taking out old wooden equipment and replace it with what you see today.”
Tuesday’s event focused on the two newest additions to the park — the “dome” and the “superhero set”. The two pieces of playground equipment represent Phases III and IV of the park improvements, and came at a cost of about $25,000.
A majority of those funds was raised through private donations from individuals and businesses. The Page Alliance for Community Action also contributed $3,000 to the project.
Initially, the two pieces were earmarked to be handled separately over time, probably at a pace of about one per year. However, the level of donations to the project made it possible to take two steps at once.
“The progress that has been made would not be possible without these donations,” Mayor Lucas said.
Phase IV of the park improvements has been amended (since the “dome” was included in Phase III) and now includes a FirstPlay Toddler Wall at a cost of $6,010. It will be placed in the corner of the fenced-in playground area near the toy train.
Other planned improvements in the park include remodeling and rebuilding seats and the entrance to the playground (Phase V) and the construction of a restroom with a handicap accessible water fountain (Phase VI).
In March 2020, the town celebrated the completion of Phase II improvements, which included the addition of a swing set and the “train.” The actual celebration event was canceled on March 23, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new equipment was purchased and installed at the park.
Also in March 2020, local Girl Scouts Danika Hammer and Brianna Thompson of Troop 40771 dedicated a free book library near the park’s entrance, where park patrons may leave a book or take a book. The Girl Scouts are also looking at repainting the “totem pole” at the park as a new project.
“We will continue to make improvements at the park…maybe doing one thing each year,” Mayor Lucas said. “These new pieces are durable and long-lasting…they should be around for many, many years.”
The mayor hopes that the wave of support the park has received will draw others into the project, as the town attempts to purchase the toddler wall and repair the entrance to the playground.
The town is also raising funds to replace four picnic tables at Big Gem Park at a cost of $1,119 per table. A plaque can be attached to the table with the donor’s name on it.
To donate to the projects at the WigWam Village Park or Big Gem Park,
contact Town Clerk Lora Jenkins at (540) 652-8164