SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Construction on the downtown playground began last week and is expected to be completed by the beginning of October.
Employees of R.F. Jordan and Sons began dismantling the aged pieces of the playground equipment on Aug. 28. They expect to be at the site until Sept. 18 leveling the ground, improving drainage, removing vegetation and stabilizing the retaining wall.
In June, voters approved a town allocation of $180,000 for the playground, by a large margin. Bids for the project went out in July and R.F. Jordan and Son’s bid for the earth work was approved by the Board of Selectmen in August.
Children will have to wait until the end of September or beginning of October to try out the new equipment. According to an employee of the contractor, the new pieces are not expected to be installed until the end of the month.
Using backhoes and other construction equipment, crews are currently in the process of digging a couple of feet down to break up previously laid concrete from older playground construction. So far, the project is on schedule to wrap up in two weeks.
During the earthwork, R.F. Jordan and Sons removed a maple tree near the fence that abuts the Post Office parking lot. Two other trees on the lot will remain as part of the new playground area.
It is not yet clear whether the retaining wall that holds the foundation of the playground area will need to be reset or can remain in place. Still to be addressed are the multiple rose bushes and other foliage along the fence between the playground and the Post Office parking lot. They are expected to be removed per request of town officials.
School began at Pemetic Elementary School last week. With the playground off limits, the younger grades that typically use it for recess are playing on the athletic fields in the back of the school.
Construction of the playground pieces is not expected to begin until the end of September. A feature of the previous playground, a toy boat named AOS 91, is currently sitting off to the side of the paved basketball court behind Harbor House. When the playground is resurfaced, the boat will be reinstalled.
An employee of R.F. Jordan said he figured the boat being parked outside the orange fence on the pavement would be out of the way, but on the first day of school, kids were so excited to be back and on common ground that one jumped from the top of the boat into the construction site.