Chelsea Heights: the village that built a playground

Chelsea Heights Elementary School students will see a new playground erected outside their school windows on May 1 and 2.

The project will be celebrated on Thursday, May 2, at noon with a ribbon cutting and press conference. After nearly four years of fundraising by the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO), the school, which is located at 1557 Huron St., will get new playground equipment, a naturescape surrounding the area and a new tot lot for preschoolers.

“We’re really excited,” said Ann Smith, PTO vice president. “It’s going to be great.”

A teardown of the old playground equipment will begin the last week of April. The entire project should be finished by the Chelsea Heights spring carnival on Friday, May 17, Smith said.

The project has received funding from a variety of sources but began with the PTO, which has raised nearly $60,000 through donations from Chelsea Heights families and neighbors. The PTO’s efforts made the project eligible for a school district match of $15,000. Having the community and the school district onboard with the project brought an award for both the school and the neighborhood through Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, a local nonprofit that rehabs homes of low-income residents. Rebuilding Together is donating $60,000 toward a playground rebuild through the Carter Kids Foundation and another $60,000 to go toward need-based home renovation in three to four area homes as well as at Northwest Como Recreation Center, which is in the same building as the school. Lowe’s is contributing 200 volunteers for the playground rebuild.

Those volunteers will be on hand May 1 and 2 with Carter Oosterhouse of Home and Garden TV to erect the playground and help with the home and rec center projects. There are still ways for the public to get involved by volunteering May 1 and 2 and through buying an engraved brick that will be incorporated into the playground design. Build volunteers must be 18 years or older or be accompanied by an adult. Sign up to volunteer at Individual and family pricing for a 4-by-8-inch brick ranges from $100 to $125 and business pricing for an 8-by-8-inch brick ranges from $350 to $500. The deadline for ordering a brick is Tuesday, April 30. You can find out more at

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