The Tamaqua Borough Council held a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Thursday evening for the new Dutch Hill Playground.

Overlooking the baseball fields at Columbia and Biddle streets, the new playground, located on property owned by the Tamaqua Area Baseball Association (TABA), features a large and small play structure and a six-seat swing set.

The small play structure was originally located at the H.D. Buehler Memorial Pool but had to be moved to make room for the new pool water slide.

The equipment was removed by borough employees and reconstructed in Dutch Hill by the playground contractor, Dirt Works Solutions of Slatington.

Daniel Schroeder, the borough's Community Development Officer, designed the playground, and volunteers from the TABA helped with the construction and site preparation.

"This worked out very nice," said Schroeder. "It all fit together perfectly. Glad to see the kids enjoying it."

"The playground was developed through a joint venture between the Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Commission (ESRC), the TABA and the Borough of Tamaqua," said Kevin Steigerwalt, Tamaqua borough manager. "Funding for the project was provided by a $28,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and a $28,000 matching grant from the borough's Community Development Block Grant Program."

He added the borough's appreciation to the TABA for their many weeks of prep work, as well as use of the property.

Bill Aungst, president, TABA, said that the association donated over $10,000 worth of time and resources into the project.

He added that the land was donated to the association in 1990 by WLSH radio.

Jason Boris, executive director of ESRC, prepared the DCNR grant application and assisted the borough with administration of the grant.

"This park provides a great amenity to the field," said Boris. "The TABA is volunteering to oversea the park. They really stepped up to the plate with this project."

"For about 20 years, Dutch Hill was the only neighborhood in Tamaqua that did not have a playground," said Dave Mace, Tamaqua councilman and chairman of the recreation committee. "The cooperation between the borough, ESRC and the TABA provided a fulfillment of restoring the park for the area."

"We are very proud to give our youth another activity hear in Tamaqua," said Tamaqua Mayor Chris Morrison, who praised the cooperation between all organizations involved.

Residents approached borough officials on several occasions stressing the need for a neighborhood playground.

The Dutch Hill Playground is now one of seven playgrounds in Tamaqua. Others playgrounds being the Bungalow Park, East End Park, North and Middle Ward Playground, Owl Creek Community Park, South Ward Playground and Willing Memorial Park.

For more information about the borough's recreation programs or to get involved, contact the Borough of Tamaqua at (570) 668-3444 or 668-0300 or the Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Commission at (570) 668-2919.

"This playground is the greatest thing since Skippy peanut butter for these kids," said Dutch Hill resident Rich Davidson, who brought his younger relatives to play on the new equipment during the opening.