The thump of a soccer ball, the gleeful shouts of children and a baby's smile as her mother gently rocks her in a swing heralded the opening of a newly upgraded playground in Quakake, Rush Township on Saturday.

The improvement began almost three-and-a-half years ago, July 2006, when township supervisors Stephen W. Simchak, Shawn Eric Gilbert and William J. Sanchez, Jr. received a $27,500 development/small community grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to refurbish the park.

The township provided the required $7,500 match and has met the Dec. 31 deadline to complete the work and submit documentation to DCNR.

The park, at Rogoski Street and Route 1019, features a full-size macadam basketball court, a paved parking area, and a baby/toddler swing set. In order to meet today's accessibility guidelines and safety standards, a minimal degree of site grading and tree removal was done.

Simchak, who brought his family to the park on Saturday, said the project will continue.

"Hopefully, next spring we can purchase more equipment," he said. "We'll keep improving it and expanding it."

A dedication ceremony for the park is planned for the spring of next year. Future plans for the area include the installation of park lights, curbing, planting of trees and shrubs, painting and lining of the basketball and tennis courts, a new net for the tennis court, and a park sign.

The park project could not have been done without local donations of time, effort and materials: Grouse Hunt Farms - tree and stump removal; Hazleton Scrap & Recycling - fill material and trucking; Fox Trucking, Inc. - fill material; Grand Prix Excavating - fill material and trucking; Northeast Hydro-seeding (Wayne Postupack) - bulldozer and fill material grading; Roland Harper, PLS - sealed property plan; Highway Equipment, Inc. - earth roller;

Daniel Farber, Jr. and Daniel Farber, Sr. - bulldozer and final grading and fill compaction;Tropp Contracting, Inc. - basketball and parking area paving placement and material trucking; D.P. Fence Co. -13 feet of fencing.

In addition, the Rush Township Road Department provided demolition work and site improvements.

Committed contributions for completion include roadside protective timber placement and existing basketball hoop adjustment by DP Fence, and placing topsoil and materials and placement of seeding and mulch by Northeast Hydro-seeding.