Fifteen years of small feet hiding and seeking, sliding and jousting, and pounding up and down hidden stairways have taken their toll on the "crown jewel" of Doylestown-area parks.
Built in 1997 through a massive community-wide effort, Kids Castle in Doylestown Township's Central Park is reaching the end of its lifespan. If it is to survive for future generations of children, it needs help now.
That was the message from one woman Tuesday night at the Doylestown Township supervisors' meeting. And it will be the message she and other volunteers will share tonight at a meeting - a rally, of sorts - at Kids Castle.
Dawn Byers went before the township supervisors Tuesday to ask their blessing in moving forward with a campaign to rally volunteers and raise money to pay for major renovations to Kids Castle.
"When I say restoration, I want to be clear, we’re probably looking at the complete replacement of nearly every piece of equipment in the castle over the next five years," said Byers, who helped coordinate the community effort that built the castle.
"We’d like to try to keep the castle itself, the iconic piece, if we could," she said. "So we’re looking at restoring that. That’s the iconic piece of Kids Castle. That’s the draw, that’s why it was built."
Byers stressed that the structure itself still is safe for children to play on. The renovations and repairs needed now will ensure the playground lasts for many more years, she said.
Hundreds of people have rallied to the cause.
More than 1,000 people have joined the "Save Kids Castle" Facebook group, and at least 70 people are expected to turn out tonight at a meeting to outline the project, Byers said.
The meeting is at the pavilion next to Kids Castle in at 6:30 p.m. Everyone who has loved Kids Castle over the years or wants to be able to enjoy it in the future is encouraged to attend.
The group likely will form a committee to draft a plan of attack, including how much money they will need to raise and how they will go about it.
Tuesday, the township supervisors gave their unanimous support to the volunteer effort.
"I’m totally in support of saving our jewel," said supervisor Tom Scarborough. "It’s something that brings great recognition to this township."
Fellow supervisors Rick Colello and Shawn Touhill agreed, as did chairman Barb Lyons, who thanked Byers for once again stepping up to organize the effort.
"You led the creation of Kids Castle over 15 years ago, you did the 10 year anniversary redo. And now you’re back," Lyons said.
Byers said she hopes to kick off the effort and then turn much of the stewardship over to a new generation of leaders.
"For the community to have ownership, you have to sometimes let things go," Byers said. "By me stepping back, it will allow someone else to step into the gap."
What do you think? Should Kids Castle be saved? How can the group raise enough money to pay for the renovations? Share your ideas in the comments.