Play in Bay upgrade project more than halfway to campaign goal

Members of the original Play in Bay committee reunite at the playground. Pictured, from left: Jim Potter, Tom Jelepis, Kim Campbell, Al Paulus, Mark Flash and Keri Altieri. Photo by Don Vernon

The Bay Village community built the Play in Bay playground in 1995 and now we want to preserve it for at least another 20 years. The fundraising drive to refurbish and enhance Play in Bay that began last September is off to a great start!

"Over 300 families have responded and we have already achieved over 60 percent of the campaign goal," reported board President Al Paulus. "We believe we can raise the additional funds and complete the project before the summer is over.”

Bay Village Foundation board members are busy contacting those that may not have had the chance to contribute. If you wish to contribute, please send a check to The Bay Village Foundation, P.O. Box 40122, Bay Village, OH 44140 indicating your desire for the funds to be for the Play in Bay project. Or contribute on our website:

The Kiwanis Club, who was instrumental in the original building of the playground, is planning to make a donation to be announced soon. Trustees Sarah Urbancic and Mindy Stroh have organized a Family Winterfest at Play in Bay and nearby Kiddie Kollege on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 3-5 p.m. to raise funds. For a suggested donation of $20 per family, there will be cookies and hot chocolate, games and raffle prizes.

With help from students and teachers at Bay High, including the Key Club, an electronic survey was developed to be completed by elementary school children, asking them what they would like to see installed at the newly refurbished playground.

How It All Began

I’ve been asked many times how this great voluntary community initiative came about. I sat down to talk with some of those that gave it their all to make this special playground a reality. 

Bay Village Foundation President, Al Paulus, visited the site recently with some of the original planners and workers. Present were Jim Potter, Kim Campbell and Keri Altieri, Mark Flash and former Mayor Tom Jelepis.

The group explained that Keri and Kim, sisters, got the idea for a playground structure while vacationing at Hilton Head. When they returned, they started a conversation with friends and the school children. It grew into a committee and the rest is history. Jim Potter and Connie Deiken were appointed co-chairs. The City, faced with a tight budget, could not afford to build a new playground. The small group was faced with finding creative ways to raise money and recruit volunteers. According to Jim Potter, Keri and Kim went to the elementary schools and, after describing the possibilities, the children were given a survey asking what they would like to see in a new playground. The results were taken to a group meeting, now grown larger, and the idea was accepted as a new challenge.  The new project plans to do the same.

Mayor Tom Jelepis was a strong supporter of the effort and he went to City Council for guidance as to how best to help get the job done. T. Richard (Dick) Martin, then Council president, suggested a separate fund be set up so the volunteers had a central place to keep the money that was raised. That fund later became The Bay Village Foundation.

A playground developer was selected and the plans were drawn with the idea that the materials would be delivered to the site and the volunteers would build the large wooden structure. Work crews were assembled, divided by available skills and with a great deal of sweat the entire playground was built. It was truly a community effort.

Those that couldn’t physically do the building work were babysitters, cooks and errand runners. Betsy Martin, Dick’s wife, said she spent hours in a makeshift kitchen-lunch area preparing food for the workers. Food was donated and everyone pitched in over two weekends of solid building. Gerry Smith, Becky Olson, Mark Flash and Gary Ebert were also active members of the crew. Diane Pavan kept the records and kept track of the funds and the needs of the workers.

The playground is now 20 years old and it is showing significant signs of deterioration. The wood has sustained water damage and some of the equipment is broken or in need of replacement. The structure represents what a strong community can do when put to the task. The goal now is to preserve this structure and get it ready for 20 more years of active usage.

Eileen Vernon

Trustee of The Bay Village Foundation. Retired lawyer. Resident of Bay Village Foundation for over 32 years.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 10:19 AM, 01.19.2016