Resident’s vision for new playground brings shouts of joy to Boone Park

Resident’s vision for new playground brings shouts of joy to Boone Park
As Councilman Jim Love and excited children look on, Kim Clontz, center, cuts the ribbon at the Oct. 15 official opening of the new playground in Boone Park South, with an assist from Daryl Joseph, right, director of Parks and Recreation.

Vowing she wouldn’t cry, Kim Clontz choked back tears of joy at the dedication of the new playground in Boone Park South Oct. 15, attended by hundreds of children, their parents, and more than a few family pooches.

Clontz, of Avondale, was the instigator behind the renovation of the 25-year-old playground, originally designed by another Avondale resident, Richard Skinner.

“It’s worth noting three years ago I saw this playground equipment in another city and I watched my two daughters, Zoe and Olivia, playing on it fully engaged like I’ve never seen children on a playground,” said Clontz. On January 1, 2015, Clontz made a New Year’s resolution to bring KOMPANTM playground equipment to Boone Park.

Clontz collaborated with Stacy Moseley, a KOMPAN designer who is equally passionate about premiering this European approach to play in Jacksonville, and with Skinner to ensure the footprint and canopy of shaded trees would remain intact.

John Stockton Elementary School student Carolyn Campbell, 6-1/2, takes a twirl in a bucket ride. “I love it!” she said about the new KOMPAN equipment at the playground on St. Johns Avenue.

John Stockton Elementary School student Carolyn Campbell, 6-1/2, takes a twirl in a bucket ride. “I love it!” she said about the new KOMPAN equipment at the playground on St. Johns Avenue.

In record time Clontz drove a $90,000 community fundraising campaign that would be matched with bond funds from District 14 Councilman Jim Love and combined with budgeted funds from Jacksonville’s Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, Riverside philanthropist Delores Barr Weaver’s $50,000 grant closed out a five-month-long campaign, allowing legislative, procurement and construction phases to begin in April 2016.

“With the help of all our donors, from $5 to $50,000, who made this happen, my dream is that for the children who come here to experience this playground their joy will last a lifetime,” Clontz said.

Sophia Dawkins, 8, with little sister Olivia, 5, and new friend Camille Cunningham enjoy the new equipment at the Boone Park South playground.

Sophia Dawkins, 8, with little sister Olivia, 5, and new friend Camille Cunningham enjoy the new equipment at the Boone Park South playground.

The distinctive play structures include a jungle-like dome with bridges, ladders and ropes, a fairy tale-themed play set for toddlers, oversized geometric-shaped climbing structures, a rotating ring that appeals to everyone from toddlers to adults, and even sturdy exercise equipment to encourage parents to put down their smart phones.

“When you look at this playground you’ll know we are committed to creating destinations that challenge children and adults and teens and create community,” said Moseley. “It’s a great tribute to you, our donors, our contributors, the community…it’s a great tribute to Jacksonville.”

At the Oct. 15 dedication of the new Boone Park playground, Councilman Love presented Clontz with the Friends of Jacksonville Parks Civic Leader Award “for your generous commitment of time, support and inspiration for Jacksonville’s children.” The plaque included a quote by author and playwright George Bernard Shaw: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

By Kate A. Hallock

Budding entrepreneur Reed Krueger sells lemonade at the new playground to benefit the St. Augustine Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund.

Budding entrepreneur Reed Krueger sells lemonade at the new playground to benefit the St. Augustine Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund.

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