TOWNSHIP – Nearly two dozen people attacked the old playground of the Compton Learning Center with vengeance.
Wielding hammers, power saws, and torches, Republic Services volunteers were on a mission to destroy and remove every piece of mostly run-down or obsolete playground equipment from the site along SE 14th Street.
“I’m having fun,” proclaimed Tim Vandersall.
He is the operations manager for the company’s landfill near East Sparta. On Saturday morning, however, he showed off his power saw skills, cutting metal poles.
The group did not rely on written plans or specifications. The job consisted of demolition work, such as a visit to a rage room, or an outdoor version of a “Flip or Flop” TV episode.
“We kind of looked at it, and then we figured out what tools we would need,” he said.
The work was part of an ongoing effort to revitalize a part of the southeastern part of the city known as the Lathrop Quarter. The Compton site – home to the Canton City School District Alternative Passages Middle and High School – was once called Lathrop Elementary.
Decades ago it was a community center.
Not so much, more.
But Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio, which has built many homes in the area, landed a $ 100,000 National Neighborhood Promise grant from the Republic Services Charitable Foundation. This was one of 11 such projects selected across the country.
Part of this grant funds work on the playground.
The fun part is on the road.
Aaron Brown, the local director of investments in the Habitat district, has unveiled drawings of what the playground will look like when completed.
“It all starts today”, he declared, thanking the volunteers of the Republic.
The concept of the new playground, a few hundred feet from Route 30, includes: two full-size basketball courts, swings and new play equipment, an athletics course, a greenhouse, a small amphitheater for children. outdoor learning and a pavilion with grills nearby.
Saturday’s work cleared the site for the next steps.
Christen Sedmock, director of alternative programs for the school system, said the project will provide Passages students with practical opportunities to help with future plans.
Republic Services, a waste disposal company, has around 200 employees in the Akron-Canton area, said Adam Mills, operations manager at the Massillon site. He said employees want more than a job and a paycheck.
“We interviewed them and found that they wanted to get involved in their communities… it was a great opportunity,” he said. “People want to feel like they’re part of something (bigger).
The local chapter of Habitat was born in 1988 and has since grown to serve Carroll, Tuscarawas, Harrison and Jefferson counties, as well as Stark. Since its inception, it has provided over 600 homes through its interest-free loan and venture capital format.
Brown said the neighborhood revitalization is an extension of the group’s mission. The chapter had planned to invest $ 3 million in three regions in the southeast – Lathrop, Hartford and Belden.
Contact Tim at 330-580-8333 or
On Twitter: @tbotosREP