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Mon., Oct. 5
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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New Canton play park encourages imagination


CANTON — A hollow-log playhouse and wood-carved sculptures have been installed at the new children’s play park on the 5-kilometer Canton bike path next to the Partridge Run Golf Course.

“Everything in here is designed to encourage imagination and connect children to the natural world,” said Baylor L. Johnson, chairman of the Friends of the Canton Trail Committee.

Over the weekend, students from St. Lawrence University and SUNY Canton helped set up the new additions to the 30-foot by 50-foot play area that opened in May. The free park is open to the public during daylight hours.

Encouraging families to be more physically active is another goal of the park, named “Park of the Imagine Nation.”

“We want to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Mr. Johnson said. “I hope it gets used and I hope it attracts more families to the trail.”

Children from two nearby spots — Canton Central’s Banford Elementary School and the Canton Day Care Center — can make outings to the park, which is partially enclosed by a fence.

A wooden balance beam is held by two sculpted bears that were carved with a chain saw by Terry L. McKendree, DeKalb, who provided the sculptures at a discounted price. The log playhouse was constructed by Brian D. Coots, a Colton woodworker, who used a giant log found on the SLU campus.

Filled with an assortment of large boulders and sand, the play area is about 150 yards from the golf course parking lot in the direction of the nature trail that runs behind Canton Central School. Some plastic trucks and other toys have been donated by community members.

The village donated sand and geotextile cloth to keep the sand from mixing with the soil underneath. J.E. Sheehan Contracting, Potsdam, contributed limestone blocks that surround the sandbox, dug out the area and hauled in the boulders.

Mr. Johnson said a few tree stumps of varying heights will be added to the park, and he also plans to install benches along the perimeter so grown-ups have a place to sit while their children are playing. He also wants to install a sign. A grand opening event is being planned for this fall after the park is finished.

The project was funded partially through a $6,000 grant from the state-funded project Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play, which is administered through the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative.

The trail committee is seeking more grant funding to help complete the project as well as individual donations, which are tax deductible. For donations, checks can be made out to the village of Canton, with “Park of the Imagine Nation” on the memo line. They can be mailed to Friends of the Canton Trail, 25 Judson St., Canton, N.Y. 13617. The village clerk will mail receipts to donors.

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