By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 3/5/19
HARRISONBURG — Members of four local Rotary clubs gave not only their time over the weekend, but their money — donating $100,000 for playground equipment at Rockingham Park at the Crossroads.
Over 60 members from the Rotary clubs of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Bridgewater and Harrisonburg- Massanutten pitched in hours of time spreading wood carpet down to be used under mulch and installing boarders surrounding the new playground at the park.
Jon Sayre, a project leader with the Rotary Club of Rockingham County, said the donation was made up of three years of proceeds from the annual Strawberry Festival, a fundraiser with proceeds benefiting to the Build Our Park initiative and the Rockingham Park at the Crossroads.
“We were looking to donate to a park or playground so we took the proceeds and put them in an account until we decided what to use it for,” Sayre said. “It took us three years to get us where we needed to be, but the kids need this playground.”
Kirby Dean, director of Rockingham parks and recreation, said the playground equipment was budgeted at $150,000. With the donation, only $50,000 must come out of the Parks and Recreation Department’s $2.5 million budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
With the work done by volunteers, Dean said the playground should be ready for visitors soon.
“All that is left is cleaning up the equipment, smoothing out the area and placing a rules sign,” Dean said. “The playground should be ready to go on seven to 10 days.”
Dean said the county is still anticipating a June 1 grand opening for Rockingham park at the Crossroads, though the county began using some facilities last year.
The county acquired the 64-acre property east of Harrisonburg along U. S. 33 in the Penn Laird area nearly five years ago with plans to build four multipurpose fields, two baseball and two softball fields, three playgrounds, four shelters, a splash pad, amphitheater, walking trails and an indoor recreation center.
The first phase of construction of the $22 million park, which includes the multipurpose, baseball and softball fields, was originally projected to open in spring 2018, but delays forced officials to reschedule the planned grand opening for late August. Work was delayed again, however, due to weather and other factors outside of developers’ control, according to county officials.
The park’s four multipurpose fields were used for flag and tackle football this past fall. Concession stands and restrooms located by the fields also were finished last year. Work is continuing on the two baseball and softball fields.
Dean said the baseball and softball fields will be named Albert Long Fields in honor of Albert Long, a veteran of World War II who retired in the area and donated a separate parcel to the county for use as a park in 1971. Long died in 1989.
“We are working on the two [baseball and softball] fields that will be opening in June, as well as working on the other two [baseball and softball] fields that will open a year later,” Dean said Monday.