New Coventry PEACE Park will benefit whole community
I can't believe it has been 30 years! It seems like yesterday that a small group of Coventry Elementary School parents had a crazy idea to build a big playground around the famous Coventry school sledding hill.
Somewhere after the first wave of volunteers, my wife, Debbie, and I got involved. This was a herculean task to raise a lot of money before social media existed. It was a grassroots approach, with donations gladly accepted, from $1 to $10,000. The power of the people got this amazing playground built.
Over 10 days, many of them rainy, we worked with a handful of professional contractors from a specialized playground company. Coordinating this construction with almost 600 volunteers was a monumental task. However, as I always have said, “Let the PTA run the world and it will be a safer, better place!”
Anyone and everyone were welcome. We offered multiple shifts. We provided daycare for volunteers who had kids. We fed the masses. Many Coventry businesses donated food, but the King of Coventry, Tommy, went all out as usual.
There was a job for everyone. Even a guy like me, who can't even replace a lightbulb, became a schlepper and huge-slide builder. The construction was a true barn raising in the Amish sense of the word—okay, a playground raising—that took a village to achieve.
Over the years, I remained involved in the fun at Coventry Park. I initiated the "drive-in" movie series without cars. I worked with Erick Kauffman, former Coventry PEACE president, to provide music from local bands and the Heights High jazz combo.
Now, 30 years later, we have a tired, old playground that needs to be replaced. What Heights Libraries proposed is pretty darn spectacular—a totally new Coventry PEACE Park, with attention [given] to the environment, natural materials, placement, and the community it serves! With these new plans, arts events and free-form play will continue to flourish.
What does this all mean? It brings life to Coventry, an area that is special to so many. The library will bring intergenerational programs outside. Coventry PEACE Campus, with its many nonprofits and artists, will benefit. The Coventry merchants, like many small businesses that can use a boost, will benefit as well. We'll be able to take our four grandkids to Coventry for a full day of fun. The whole community wins!
What can you do? You don't have to schlep tools or build anything except community. We need you to help raise the funds for this project.
The total project cost is $1.2 million. We have raised $613,000. We need to raise $587,000 more. Help us spread the word! Maybe you know of a family foundation that would consider a donation. Donations can be made online at bit.ly/FFHLPeacePark or sent to the Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries at 2345 Lee Road.
Build it and they will come . . .
Steve Presser and his wife, Debbie Apple-Presser, are 40-year residents of Cleveland Heights' Coventry neighborhood.