New Playground Taking Shape In Vacant Oaklawn Lot

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

A community is coming together to improve a neighborhood. Bringing everyone together is the goal of designing and building a playground in the span of just one weekend.

Volunteers have braved the Kansas heat to convert a vacant lot in Oaklawn into a park. It's a project enjoying plenty of community support.

While there are still signs of damage from the April 14 tornado that caused widespread damage in Oaklawn, they're being replaced by the signs of progress and improvement.

"It's fabulous the way everybody's working together," said Andree Sisco, a member of the Oaklawn Improvement District's board of directors. "It really is great."

Board members have been wanting to do something positive with a vacant lot left behind when an abandoned house in the 4500 block of Hemlock was torn down.

"We took the slab out to look at having it turned into a park someday," Sisco said. "And then this wonderful organization came in and gave us the opportunity and they've just been fabulous."

That organization is the Legacy Center, a North Carolina-based company that provides corporate training and personal coaching across the country. Another strong focus of the Legacy Center is community service.

The group got the idea for the Oaklawn project from team members from Wichita, who wanted to help the communities affected by the April tornado.

"They talked about Oaklawn and how it really got a lot of the damage," said Jason Kunz, a Legacy Center member from Minneapolis, Minn. "We talked to Oaklawn, talked to the board, and we got this lot open and everything just fell into place after that."

Kunz left Minneapolis, picked up a disassembled playground in Duluth, Minn., and drove it to Wichita in the back of a U-Haul truck. In addition to about 20 legacy center members, plenty of Oaklawn neighbors have been helping the project take shape, including some of those looking forward to using the playground the most.

No matter their size or age, everybody found a way to help out.

Work on the playground started Friday morning and the plan is for everything to be done by the end of the weekend.

"We have a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow night at 7 o'clock," Kunz said. "So we have to have everything done by 7 o'clock tomorrow night."

Plenty more volunteers will be needed to reach that goal. Work will begin at the site of the new park, 4539 Hemlock in Oaklawn, about 8 a.m. Sunday and will continue until the playground is complete.

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