A weekend makeover of a central city park incorporated a bit of history.
Lifesavers Park is now equipped with a solar panel tower that will provide up to six hours of power — enough to show a movie on the newly installed movie screen — and allow park visitors to recharge cellphones or laptop computers.
It is believed to be the first park in Ontario — perhaps Canada — to have the green energy apparatus.
Bringing in hydro lines in to provide power for movies and such would have cost the city thousands of dollars, says Alex Moroz, a community liaison co-ordinator from public works.
“This is really a cool concept,” Moroz said Sunday, shortly before the makeover was to be officially opened by city officials and community members were to sit down and watch the 2012 cartoon feature, “The Lorax.”
“It’s all solar with batteries. Even in the winter, this will provide four to six hours of power. It’s very innovative.”
The solar panels and wood movie screen — built on what could only be described as an old T-ball baseball diamond because of its size — were not the only things that popped up at the Sanford Avenue South and Cumberland Avenue park on the weekend.
Volunteers from FPM3, a John Street South advertising agency that adopted the park in 2013, spent Saturday and Sunday renovating the park with community volunteers under a city program called Extreme Park Makeover.
It now has an expanded basketball court, refurbished jungle gym, new pathways, new plants, a bike rack (plus a free-standing bike repair system) and murals on the fence that borders the CP Rail line.
The cost was about $30,000 and a third of that was put up by FPM3, which is run by president Adam Oldfield. The solar panel tower was made for FPM3 by Brantford-based ProQuip International, which specializes in renewable energy products.
The park is named for the former Life Savers factory that stood next door on Cumberland for 80 years and closed in 2004. It was chosen for the makeover last year after an application from Oldfield, who brings employees to clean up the park several times a year.
The target audience praised the new look.
“I think it’s nice and I like it,” said eight-year-old Seth Borsellino, who came Sunday to help clean up the park.
Jaden Fraser, 12, who painted two murals, called the changes to the park “extraordinary” and said he didn’t believe it could be altered from its “crappy” appearance, marred by cigarette butts, pop cans and litter.
“It’s awesome,” said Dianne Kydd, 67, who used to bring her grandson Joel, now 16, to the park when he was younger. “We were here every day. I can’t believe the difference.”
The next park to receive an extreme makeover will be Lucy Day, on Clinton Street, in the spring of 2016.