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Oct 21, 2019 2:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Shinnecock Playground & Family Picnic Area Open For Visitors

The new Shinnecock Playground & Family Picnic Area. BRYAN POLITE
Oct 22, 2019 3:49 PM

The Shinnecock Indian Nation Council of Trustees recently unveiled a new playground and family picnic area — a project that was first envisioned in 2009.

Throughout the last decade, parents on the reservation have continued to ask for a new park and playground area for children. An old playground had grown old and was located across the street from the Indian Education Center, on Church Street, close to the tribal office — so children would have to walk across a street with a sharp corner and limited visibility, a dangerous maneuver.

The playground includes a full swing set, jungle gym and monkey bars. The family picnic area has several benches in the shade, where parents can easily keep an eye on their children.

“Oh, they love it already,” Kenny Coard, director of Shinnecock Indian Education, said, noting that the new playground will be integral to a camp run by the Shinnecock Education Program every summer. “Come spring and summer, the playground area will become an essential part of the summer camp.”

The new playground is located across from the Family Preservation Center, next to already existing basketball courts. The original blueprint for the new park was finalized about seven years ago, but it took time to gather the approximately $140,000 in funding to construct it.

“The funds were not available at the time, so it had to wait. But the idea never left the community,” said Tribal Council Chairman Bryan Polite.

The Shinnecock community, through a special fund that utilizes revenue from smoke shops and other businesses on the tribe’s territory, raised the money for the park. About five years ago, the council created a Section 17 federally chartered corporation named Shinnecock Sovereign Holdings. The local businesses contribute to the corporation, which funds community projects.

“As a result of the enterprises through the corporation, we had the ability to spend some money on some community projects — and that's where the funding came from,” said Seneca Bowen, treasurer of the council. The project total came close to $140,000. The original estimate was $90,000, but that did not include labor costs.

The Nation, as a whole, voted to move forward with the project in 2015, Mr. Polite said, and it was completed by the end of this past summer. The Shinnecock community held a grand opening ceremony on October 5 to celebrate the completion of the long-awaited park.

“This project has given the community and the leadership some pride — being able to have the funds to finally put together something that would bring the community together,” Mr. Bowen said. “Since we've put it up, and even before we had our ceremony, we instantly had the community gravitate toward it. More people were on that playground and the golf and basketball areas than we’ve seen in all the months prior.”

Mr. Bowen said that community members are taking pride in completing a project that began as a vision by a handful of parents but turned into a communitywide accomplishment.

“We want to make sure that the community understands that we are trying to put our people first, and we take care of our children,” Mr. Bowen said, “and have a healthy environment for them to grow up in and have as they get older.”

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Good job!
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on Oct 23, 19 8:17 PM