By CASEY CROUCHER
Recorder News Staff
Twenty-two years ago, Bob Martin was inspired to construct Sassafras Park, a wooden playground on Henrietta Boulevard in Amsterdam.
And on Saturday morning he was inspired to help restore the park to its original beauty.
"We had 2,500 volunteers originally help build this playground," Martin said. "We built it in five days. We started on a Wednesday and had the whole thing done by Sunday. It really got the whole community involved and it was nice to see."
Martin said the playground is still in decent shape 22 years later; however, there were some safety issues that needed to be resolved, some caused by vandalism, loose screws and weathered wood that needed sanding.
"Our main goal today is to preserve the park and make it safe to use," he said.
Lory Cameron, a concerned resident, said she brings her daughter to the playground regularly but was concerned that the park wasn't safe enough.
Cameron spearheaded the rehabilitation project when she went to the city's Recreation Department addressing the issues.
"I grew up playing on this playground; I saw the pride people in this city had for this park," Cameron said, "but that pride is gone. I want my daughter to have what I had -- a safe, clean, fun environment."
Mayor Ann Thane said the work accomplished by roughly 30 volunteers is something to take pride in.
"We've really gotten a lot done with this park. It just looks fantastic," she said. "It looks fun and inviting and that's what we want in our city."
Saturday's volunteers spent the majority of the morning sanding the wooden playground, painting some of the equipment, tightening loose screws, hammering nails and cleaning up the grounds.
Prior to Saturday the Recreation Department replaced swings, repaired vandalized equipment, and power washed the playground.
Thane said the last step of the process will be later this week when volunteers stain the wood.
"This playground will fill back up again with kids in no time after everything is done," she said.
Martin said he lives near the park and he usually hears the sounds of children playing there, but he also hopes the facelift will attract more people as it once did.
As for Lexie Tambasco and Gemma Liverio, they still visit the park despite the fact they're now in high school.
"We live in the neighborhood," Tambasco said, "and my parents helped build this park so I visit it regularly. I want to see more people here like it used to be when I was little."
"Yeah, I think cleaning it up and making everything look better will bring more kids here," Liverio said. "This is an important park in the city because people built this all together at one point and it's nice cleaning it up now."