Jay solicits help, donations to install brand new playground
The town of Jay will be opening up a brand new playground soon, and thanks to a few helpful community members, the town saved approximately $95,000 on the project.
Over the weekend, a team of Jay residents, from high school students to the elderly, helped install a $110,000 playground kit at Bray-Hendricks Park on Booker Lane. The kit itself may have cost $110,000, but it would have cost an additional $20,000 in installation fees to have it put together by professionals.
The town put out a call-to-action to the community to help save money on the installation costs, and was overwhelmed by the response. Around a dozen or so people showed up over the weekend to help put the playground together screw by screw.
“We’re working really well with the community right now,” said Eric Seib, town operations manager. “We had probably four high school kids that got volunteer hours toward their Bright Futures scholarships, and we had probably six or seven contractors in the local area.”
Santa Rosa County Commission District 5 candidate Colten Wright and District 3 candidate Jerry Couey also stepped in to help. Several Jay town council members showed up as well. An employee with the playground equipment company was on hand to ensure the playground was installed correctly.
Maverick Natural Resources, which operates an oil refinery in Jay, donated $50,000 toward the playground project at the end of the 2019 Christmas parade. Current District 3 Commissioner Don Salter donated $25,000 to the project from his commissioner recreation fund.
Saving $20,000 in installation costs and $75,000 toward the cost of the kit itself, the town of Jay was only on the hook for approximately $15,000 for the brand new, state-of-the-art playground.
“We received a bunch of complaints about the playground over the last couple of years,” Seib said. “We knew the old playground was old, the hard thing was trying to find the money for it.”
The new playground isn't finished just yet — concrete still has to be poured to help stabilize the structure, which has to be done when there hasn't been any rain. Seib said he hopes the playground will be ready for children by the Fourth of July weekend.
The playground renovation is the first in a multi-phase project for Jay's 40-acre Bray-Hendricks Park. The remaining phases will include tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball, softball and tee ball fields, as well as concession stands and restrooms.
It's part of an effort to help revive the sleepy town of Jay, which is estimated to have around 620 full-time residents.
“It’s the quiet town. But if we stay quiet, we’ll go away,” Seib said. “You either have to build to get better, or fade away. So we’re just trying to make improvements and changes and build here what we can. We’re trying.”
Annie Blanks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8632.