Lions Club gives playground new face

MARTINS FERRY Fodor Memorial Park has benefitted from a community’s hard work. The Lions Club led the way in a series of extensive upgrades.

William Tolbert, Lions Club member, said the playground was installed one year ago in November. It features new equipment including multiple slides and monkey bars. Tolbert said the installation took up about two days.

“It was like an old fashioned barn raising,” he said, adding that a large number of Lions Club members participated in the work. In addition, the project enjoyed help from community volunteers. Tolbert also credited the considerable support from local businesses in terms of skill, guidance and donated or discounted services.

He mentioned Joe Czuchan of Delux Door, Brian Dawes and the Dawes family, John Davies, who completed the demolition work. The Sheet metal Workers Union and Steve Hancock, union member, have also donated time and expertise.

“It was an amazing couple of days,” he said.

Tolbert added that the support of the city itself was instrumental in making the project a reality. The club received help from the prior and current mayors, the service director and council, some of which are Lions Club members.

He pointed out the city’s extra effort in installing security cameras to monitor the area for safety concerns and to prevent vandalism. He said the area children as well as children visiting from other communities have enjoyed playing in the park.

“It’s in my view the best playground in the valley,” he said, pointing out attractions such as the monkey bars, which extend 20 feet and are high enough to be visible from Zane Highway. The park boasts a variety of slides, a turnstyle device and two rows of stadium seating.

Tolbert said the project was three years in the making. He credited his sister and fellow Lions Club member Vicky Capuano for originating the idea for improving the playground, as well as leading the fundraising efforts.

Capuano said she observed the need for an update and the potential for improvement.

“The asphalt had separated,” she said. “You couldn’t even walk for the cracks.”

She noted that many volunteers had fond memories of playing at the park as children and had a sense of responsibility toward the park their parents had left them and that they wished to pass on to their children. She thanked the city for its generosity as well. She added that the Lions Club will continue to look for ways to improve the community through further projects. She said the club might contribute to upcoming projects such as the city pool. She noted the value of a community that worked together.

She said the Lions Club planned to install a plaque listing the contributors and sponsors.

Tolbert estimated that the entirety of the work including the cameras came to $450-$500,000. He said people have a sense of pride and ownership of the playground and an interest in

He said the project is ongoing. Recently a block wall was assembled behind the swing set. The addition took about three days. Tolbert noted that Lollini & Sons provided the block at cost. Wilson’s Blacktop game them a discount and Jim Miller, owner of the construction company, offered guidance during the project. Another new addition was the sidewalk installed by Over and Under Construction. The company also installed concrete around the playground equipment.

He said they hope to see the project fully completed by spring. They are now looking into landscaping services and calculating the costs. If the bids are too high, the club may consider doing the work on their own.

“That’s a sizable chunk of property to landscape,” he said.

“It’s really been a community project. The goal was to make a nice centerpiece out of the park,” Tolbert said. “The goal was to create a playground for our children that was second to none in the valley.”

DeFrank can be reached at