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Northfield playground undergoes renovation
July 23, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Courtesy Photo - Volunteers from around the area can be found at Northfield Elementary School on Saturdays as they push to complete a playground makeover in time for the start of school on Aug. 13.

The Northfield Elementary School playground is showing its age as the years roll by – and a group of local volunteers are bringing it back to what it was like when the school opened in the early 1970s.
Every Saturday morning through Aug. 8, almost 20 volunteers, both adults and students, gather at the school to give the playground a makeover, from dirt work and border placement, to sod laying and graveling, and planting, and mulching.

“Our goal is to provide more green space, and make it more visually appealing,” said Zach Karpf, president of the Northfield Elementary Booster Club. “The main issue we encountered was water erosion on the property. Water running off the roof ends up transporting a lot of the playground gravel to places we don’t want it. The erosion also creates an unsafe environment on the sidewalks.”

He said the school building’s flat roof is drained by a six-inch pipe that runs onto the playground. With heavy rains, erosion becomes a problem.
Karpf said, in addition to “dirt work,” the group will replace some of the playground equipment because of wood deterioration and rotting posts.
Funding for the makeover comes from a number of sources, including about five years of fundraising profits from the school’s booster club. The group also received a major grant from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. Other local foundations also have awarded grant funding for the project.
“We estimated the total project would cost about $90,000,” Karpf said. “All of it is private and foundation money, so taxpayer funds aren’t involved.”
He added there are conditions with any grant funding, but the group was able to provide in-kind contributions of labor, equipment and materials.

“All the volunteers are there on Saturdays for eight hours,” Karpf said. “At our first one, we had about 20 adults and 10 students. The more volunteer hours we get, the more we save on contractors and other professional services.”

The next volunteer day for the Northfield Elementary playground makeover is Saturday, July 25, when they will gravel the playground. Sod will be laid on Aug. 1 and planting and mulching happens on Aug. 8.
“We’re there every Saturday because we have to get this project completed by the start of school on Aug. 13,” Karpf said. “That’s the goal, anyway.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer may call Karpf at (308) 436-5770 or by email at zackarpf@yahoo.com.
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