Pledge could boost park

AMHERST – Efforts to build a new park here got a big boost from an Amherst family pledging $25,000 if people donate another $25,000. The challenge comes from the Grunbeck family.

The park has a fund­raising goal of $350,000, and is slated to feature a new playground, com­munity garden and na­ture trail on the south side of Amherst Village on Courthouse Road.

The park is a project of the Amherst Land Trust and the Amherst Community Foundation, and they have received all town approvals.

Another resident, Becky Kendall, earlier gave a gift of $150,000 in memory of her son, Joshua.

"I’m thrilled to have this vote of confidence," said Sally Wilkins, chairwoman of the Am­herst Land Trust.

Fundraising for the park is especially chal­lenging, she said, be­cause it coincides with fundraising for the Souhegan High School turf project and the Boys & Girls Club expansion project.

The offer from Jenni­fer and Bob Grunbeck "makes a huge differ­ence," Wilkins said.

The park fundraising committee has already raised nearly $215,000, 61 percent of the needed funds, which does not include money expect­ed from the Grunbeck pledge.

Along with a new playground, commu­nity garden and nature trail, plans call for the 3.9 acres of farmland and wetland to have a 10-space parking lot, fruit trees, a garden shed, benches and toi­let facility. It also pre­serves the farmland now worked by Tom Mitchell. Sue and Scott Adams are selling the property for $45,000 less than the appraised value.

Amherst has lacked a public playground, meaning one that is open when schools are closed, since summer 2014, when the Cemetery Fields playground was dismantled.

Other details, and a color map, are on the park website, joshuas park.org.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.