Bellefonte

Organizations, community members team up to give Bellefonte kids a safer place to play

Bob Belinda, president of the Builder’s Association of Central Pennsylvania, measures concrete Friday for the installation of a playground in Beaver Farms, an affordable housing development in Bellefonte.
Bob Belinda, president of the Builder’s Association of Central Pennsylvania, measures concrete Friday for the installation of a playground in Beaver Farms, an affordable housing development in Bellefonte. psheehan@centredaily.com

The property manager for the Beaver Farms affordable housing development almost cried Friday when reflecting on about a year of work that went into installing a new playground in the development.

The project, which is being led by the Builder’s Association of Central Pennsylvania, aimed to replace an old, unsafe playground that used to occupy the same space. BACP said it is their “biggest project ever.”

“I’ll probably get a little teared up tomorrow,” Carol Mackes said Friday. “I’m really excited and proud. The kids are definitely excited. I’m very close to the kids — they’re my little buddies. Out of everybody in the community, the kids are the ones that I’m definitely closest to. I treat them like my children. I care about them.”

Mackes said Centre County Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Haines gave her the green light to research playgrounds, which is what she was doing when she received a phone call from BACP Executive Officer Abbie Jensen.

BACP started the physical work on the project when they razed the preexisting playground before the Housing Authority took over the next phase to make the area handicap accessible. Jensen said the project is part of BACP’s BuilderWorks program.

“We wanted to bring it back. They’ve gone all summer without one and it’s a long time coming,” Haines said.

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The Builder’s Association of Central PA is installing a playground in an affordable housing development called Beaver Farms Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. Phoebe Sheehan psheehan@centredaily.com

Jensen added that the playground project was the first time that BACP “did everything” from start to finish.

“That’s really exciting for us to be able to see such a big project from beginning to end,” Jensen said. “I hope that it will be really meaningful for the participants and I hope it will inspire our organization to continue down this path.”

Much of the playground equipment came from donations that were either requested or made by EBY Paving and Construction Owner Dave Asencio. He is also a former BACP president.

“If you go to people and you say, ‘Hey, look, we’re doing something for the community through the Builder’s Association, will you help us out?’ People in this community are very giving and tend to do that, which is great,” Asencio said.

He said he enjoys giving back, in part, because he lives, works and has children that go to school in the community.

“Certainly we could be out doing other things right now with our labor and our equipment and such, but we kind of squeeze this in because it’s important,” Asencio said. “We’re just doing what we can to help out.”

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