Theand its community received an early holiday present this morning.
recently established a foundation and the first of its charitable donations in the form of a $10,000 matching grant is going to the rebuilding effort for the .
Belmont Savings' CEO and President and Executive Vice President Hal Tovin appeared at the school today, Thursday, Dec. 22, to present a symbolic check to Butler Principal Michael McAllister, Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston and Playground Committee Co-Chairmen Crate Herbert and Coralie DiTommaso.
A group of students joined in the small celebration in front of the playground,cheering and closely examining the many numbers on the oversized check.
“That’s a lot of zeros,” observed one child.
“It’s a good Christmas present,” said another.Before going outside, Tovin and Mahoney explained that the bank set up the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation in October with $2 million to help a number oftheir constituents including the elderly, children and schools.
“A true community bank has to give back to the community,” said Tovin who servesas chairman of the foundation.
“We plan to give away about $100,000 to $150,000 each year,” said Mahoney.
“When I talked to Michael (McAllister) about the closing of theplayground, I knew that we need to get this thing built.
”The grant doubles the impact of the school’s fundraising efforts, said Herbert.
“For every dollar we raise, Belmont Savings Bank will match it up to $10,000,” shesaid, adding that the funds from the bank will likely encourage more donations.
A community effort
The Butler students are very much looking forward to having the new playgroundopen. And all are ready to work toward making sure that happens. On Dec. 8, fourth graders in Justin Chiu’s class had a bake sale from which theyraised $600.
Perhaps more impressive than the money they provided to the effort is that they aren't going to be enjoying the new playground for very long, said McAllister.
"And that’s what was so wonderful about what they did," he said. “It’s what we’ve been working on with the students – to help others."
To date, approximately $40,000 is earmarked for the new playground construction.In addition to the $10,000 matching grant from the bank, the Butler PTA has promised $20,000 and an anonymous donor recently gave $10,000. Kingston pointed out that the school department has requested $100,000 from the Capital Budget Committee for the project.
The playground will be demolished, beginning early in the morning on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Frank French is generously donating the labor for the teardown, allowing for thisphase of the work to come in significantly under cost.
The entire re-building project – to be split into phases – has been estimated to cost approximately $200,000.
But McAllister pointed out that the number may not be entirely accurate as it
involves items such as landscaping, tree stumps, solar lights, park benches and an outdoor classroom that are "pretty hard to get a cost estimate on this far out" in time.
Rather, he said, what the Butler School can say with absolute certainty is that the playground's structure, swing sets and surfacing will cost $99,000.
"That is the number we are focused on at this point because we know it is accurate and was provided to us by professionals in the industry," McAllister said.
"As soon as we have additional information about the second-phase costs, we will certainly (make that information public) but at the current time we cannot (definitely) state that the entire re-building project will cost $200,000."
The Playground Committee members estimate they’ll need $99,000 to get theproject “up and running,” said Herbert.
The first phase, that will require that the committee raise about $65,000, will include getting the surface, and main structure replaced. The remaining $34,000 will replace the swing set.
"We’re feeling very optimistic that we’ll have the $65,000 in place by spring whichwill enable us to start building in April or May," said Herbert.
The full design plans for the playground include other structures and space forclassroom activities. This is a community playground, Herbert said.
"We’re collaborating with the other schools to think of the town (and children’srecreational needs) as a whole," she said, adding that it’s clear Joey’s Park will be inline for help.
"We’re in the planning stages now but hope to have a town-wide walk-a-thon for all ages and resident.”
In addition, said DiTommaso, the Playground Committee will be organizing schoolfundraisers such as a skating night in January.
The committee has reached out to the business community and has a motto forseeking help: "Be a Partner in Play.”
Should a commercial establishment provide funds for the playground, they will receive a plaque to place in their window that says: "I support the New Butler playground."