Following a yearlong effort, members of Binghamton University’s PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Scholars constructed a playground and community garden for the Walnut Street Park on Binghamton’s West Side on Sunday.
The PwC Scholars raised over $21,000 through charity events such as the Paddle Auction, Pancakes for Playgrounds and Charity Date Auction, as well as donations from local sponsors. Proceeds went toward building the park and cleaning up the surrounding area.
The new playground features a jungle gym, swings and a flowerbed. Students also cleaned a vacant lot across the street from the park and painted a mural on the adjacent walls.
Kimberly Brower, an member of the PwC Scholars executive board and a senior double-majoring in accounting and marketing, said local children gave PwC Scholars ideas for the park.
“We got to meet a lot of the kids in the fall, and when the kids were here, we asked them to draw out what they wanted to see in the park,” Brower said. “The one thing that was in all their parks was a playground, and the fact that in one day we were able to give them that, just to see them running around and being so excited, has been awesome.”
Theo Baktidy, president of PwC Scholars and a senior double-majoring in accounting and marketing, said the park provides a safe environment for kids that didn’t exist before.
“Well, I mean this area is hurting a little bit,” Baktidy said. “It has sort of lost control of itself to the crime, and so we just thought … we could give these kids something to do when they are young with the hope that it will keep them out of trouble and be able to foster a greater sense of community.”
Ten children attended the park opening, and families are already making use of the site. Alexander Angstrom, a junior majoring in accounting, believes that the park will change the future of the area.
“It totally reverses the tone of Walnut Street and encourages beautiful opportunities for love to be shared between and within families,” Angstrom said in an email. “It will make the street and area one where people want to live, and want to move to live there. I drove by the park the day after it was complete, and there were already two families enjoying the swing set. Finding a way to give those residents true ownership of their home was incredibly satisfying.”
Editor’s Note: Business Manager Kimberly Brower was not involved in the publication of this article.