Richmond group hopes to win money for playlot


For nearly three weeks, Richmond's Melanie Myers has been watching her computer, hoping an online contest will help give her neighborhood park, the Solano Playlot, a much need facelift.

"The equipment that's here and it's more than 50-years-old. It's rusting, it's dangerous, it's not suitable for kids and it's falling apart and it needs to get upgraded," she said.

With no money available from the cash-strapped city, Myers and her group entered the Solano Playlot in a nationwide contest on the KABOOM! website.

It's a non-profit devoted to creating accessible playgrounds in communities around the country and the world. The top three vote-getters will each receive $25,000 in new play equipment.

"For a long time, before we got started with this, there was no one in this park. It was like a dead park with people coming through doing things they shouldn't do, negative things," Richmond resident Marcellis Ashley said.

But then the community came together. Neighbors became friends and they began to clean up and rehabilitate the playlot. It's an effort that brought people closer in a city not always known for positive outcomes.

"It's wonderful to walk up the street and see someone that you know. It's wonderful to know that your neighbors have your back," Richmond resident Auna Longpre said.

The online voting ended at 2 p.m. on Friday, and the group was hoping to know quickly if they were among the top three, but in a tight contest with more than 30,000 votes coming in, a spokeswoman for KABOOM! told ABC7. It will be at least a few more days before the winners are announced.

"We've just worked so hard for this that even if we don't make it, we've accomplished so much. We've come together. It's really been great. It's been wonderful," Richmond resident Ellen Seskin said.

As of 2 a.m. on Friday, the playground was in third place by a slim margin and the site gave no further updates. The people behind these efforts said that even if they win the $25,000, they would need more money to completely renovate the park.

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