Shelton playground getting major upgrade after six years of fundraising

Photo of Brian Gioiele
The playground behind Sunnyside School will soon be getting an upgrade.

The playground behind Sunnyside School will soon be getting an upgrade.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — In a culmination of six years of fundraising, a groundbreaking is expected soon for construction of a new playground behind Sunnyside School.

The Board of Aldermen, at its meeting last week, approved $130,000 to begin the work, which includes construction of a fully ADA compliant playground, relocation of the basketball courts and construction of a pavilion for an outdoor classroom.

Mayor Mark Lauretti said the project, which will also include the extension of a roadway connecting the present drop off circle to the roadway that passes alongside the ball field, would cost an estimated $250,000 when finished. The work will be paid through the Parks and Recreation budget.

“I am so excited to see all our planning and fundraising actually turning into real progress,” said Sunnyside School PTO head Jessica Scerbo. “It’s been six years — it’s time.”

Scerbo said the school and PTO began planning and fundraising for a new playground when her oldest daughter was in first grade. Her daughter is now in seventh grade.

The PTO is donating $20,000 toward the project, which Lauretti said should begin in short order. Principal Amy Yost said she was told it could be complete by April.

“We have raised funds every year for the last six years,” Scerbo said. “As a small Title I school we are grateful to have raised $20,000.”

“We’re all very excited to get this going after all this time,” Yost added.

Title I is the largest federally funded educational program. The program provides supplemental funds to school districts to assist schools with the highest student concentrations of poverty to meet school educational goals.

"The playground that currently sits at Sunnyside was moved from Lafayette School when it closed,” said Scerbo, who has been personally involved in every step of the process.

“Six years ago, the PTO recognized that the playground was old and in need of replacing,” Scerbo added. “Some of the equipment was no longer safe for students to use. The city removed two pieces of equipment that were no longer safe for use.”

Scerbo and Yost, along with Parks and Recreation Department officials and Dr. Bruce Sofferman, owner of Shelton-based Smile Dental, are part of a committee that has overseen every decision including the design of the structure and the development of the property. The equipment purchases have already been made, Yost said.

Lauretti said the playground area remains under control of the city — not the Board of Education — because of its proximity to the ball fields and basketball courts already on site.

“The new playground and developed property will give the Sunnyside area and community a new outdoor space for play and gathering,” Scerbo said. “I think this new space will bring friends together in and outdoor socially distanced setting. This is especially important as we are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.”