"This is the kids' place. It needs to be taken care of and kept in the community," said Tamaqua's Borough Council president Micah Gursky in reflecting on the newly-renovated South Ward Playground Community Center.

Gursky joined a number of other elected officials and local dignitaries for a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony May 27 at the community playground. They included Tamaqua Elm Street manager and South Ward Neighborhood Committee chair Kathy Kunkel, State Rep. Jerry Knowles, Sen. Dave Argall, and representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (PDCED).

Kunkel pointed out the building's design and future benefits to the community. She thanked the volunteers, Argall, PDCED, Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce, Tamaqua Borough, Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, Salvation Army and other supporting organizations.

"I spent a lot of time in playgrounds like this one," Argall stated.

He also credited a lot of hard work and dedicated accomplishments, simply stating that "this is pretty cool."

Last year, borough council awarded the contracts to the lowest bidders for the center and playground project. Kobalt Construction was awarded the general contracting bid at $318,000, Spotts Brothers the plumbing contract at $26,450, L&S Construction the electrical contract at $33,445, and Chilewski Enterprises the HVAC contract at $17,900.

Last year, in addition to approving the bids, council also approved a modification to the 2010 community development block grant to include $45,000 for the completion of the community center. An additional $10,000 came from the CDBG funds for demolition.

"This project was a reflection of hard work of everyone involved. Local contractors played a key role in this project," stated Gursky.

Playground users will find the basketball court has been relocated to the Race Street side. The community center stands where the basketball court was previously located. New equipment has also been installed, designed to federal safety guidelines.

Knowles, who was raised a few blocks from the playground, explained that this was a perfect example of private and public partnership. He also added that he looked forward to bringing his grandson to the site. Cindy Campbell, Community Planner, PDCED, talked about the Elm Street Project and residential reinvestment dollars.

Special appreciations were also given to Michele Mehallic and Dan Schroeder for their involvement in the project. Gursky also talked in detail about the features of the community center, describing the concession stand, office space, basketball court and more. The South Ward Playground is also open, as it was closed due to renovation and construction project.