Matthew Olivier, left, and his brother, David, stand next to a sand activity board they constructed from scratch. The board will be installed at McKinley Barrier-Free Park in the spring.

Matthew Olivier, left, and his brother, David, stand next to a sand activity board they constructed from scratch. The board will be installed at McKinley Barrier-Free Park in the spring.

Photo provided by Eric Olivier


Sand activity board to be installed at McKinley Park in 2021

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 20, 2020

 Matthew Olivier drills into wood during the construction process.

Matthew Olivier drills into wood during the construction process.

Photo provided by Eric Olivier

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FRASER — McKinley Barrier-Free Park in Fraser is set to get another addition in the spring.

Eric Olivier, owner of Fraser-based Triple S Engraving and scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 1402, was contacted by the Fraser First Booster Club with an idea: creating a sand activity board.

Olivier has worked with the club in the past, doing engraving for bricks along the park’s walking path. The troop includes 18 boys and four girls, between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.

For this sized project, Olivier and his two scout sons, David and Matthew, took the reins and spent about 12 hours total planning, figuring out materials, shopping and putting the board together.

While FFBC offered to pay for all the materials, Olivier wanted his company to fund the entirety of the approximate $300 project.

“It’s kind of like a complete 100% service project,” he said.

The sand activity board features three different sections, including two sections where children dump sand into the board and it funnels down into different troughs in the sandlot. The other section fills with sand and drops down with a pull of a lever.

It’s a visual and hands-on experience in a park notorious for sensory activities. As Olivier put it, “To get anything to do anything, you have to touch.”

The board will be installed in the spring of 2021 in what is the Sandy Caloia Sandlot, named after the former club member who died in 2014 and was one of those instrumental in making McKinley Park a reality.

“It feels good,” Olivier said. “I know a lot of kids use it. My kids use it, and it feels good to give. We do what we can to help the community.”

Longtime FFBC member Vania Apps said that currently, kids tend to carry sand to the slide area and it has shown to weaken the rubber surface over time.

“I thought, if we put something for the kids to do in the sandbox … that maybe will keep sand in the sandlot,” Apps said.

She said additions like the sand activity board not only benefit future children who touch and play with the playground piece, but also those — like Olivier’s sons in this instance—who had a role in doing something to benefit the community.

“I personally just love it when I can get kids in the community involved in that park,” she said. “I know it really does help sustain the park; it bonds the kids to the experience and gives them ownership.”

The pandemic has slowed down contracting at the park, such as with the sensory garden and raised accessible beds. Now that it’s late in the season, it’s likely more pieces will be aimed for completion next year.

“The virus backed us up completely,” she said. “We had volunteers all set to go.”

In July, FFBC members and other Fraser residents did create unique peace totems that are still standing. Apps said a couple need to be replaced due to excessive touching, but all are standing and are expected to remain into the spring.

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