Dream Come True Playground & JMU Recreational Fields on Neff Ave

Thanh -- October 16th, 2007

A press release for the new Dream Come True Playground was just released today. The playground will be located on Neff Avenue just south of Sunchase Apartments . I didn’t know this, but the idea for the Playground was initiated by the Girls Scouts in 2001. After a lot of determination and planning, the ground work for the playground will begin shortly.

Funds for the playground come from a combination of grants, donations, and fundraising. The playground is on property that was donated to the City and the City’s Parks & Rec Department will maintain it. This playground is specially designed for “children of all abilities.” Pretty neat stuff.

I tried to upload a pdf of the conceptual design, but I had difficulty doing so. It has a parking lot, a bus drop off area, a picnic shelter, several playground areas, a “sensory garden”, and many other things. I am particularly interested in the “sensory garden” which I understand will have flowers for smelling and wind chimes for hearing and things for touching. I wonder how each child and even adults will interact with these things. Here’s a bit more information from the DNR.

Also in the works is JMU’s recreational fields on the other side of Neff Avenue at the corner of Port Republic Road (the northwest corner). You’ve probably seen the dirt moving on Neff Avenue just south of Stone Gate Apartments. That’s going to be the new entrance to the Turner Ashby Monument. The old monument entrance off Port Republic Road will become part of JMU’s new recreational fields. I don’t recall what all is going on that site, but I do recall multiple fields for different sports, an administrative building, and of course parking areas.

I hope that JMU takes this as an opportunity to demonstrate environmentally sensitive design. The JMU Commission on Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship will be releasing its reports soon, I think by the end of this semester. This would be a great opportunity to construct raingardens, vegetative filter strips, or whatever is appropriate around the parking lots to help manage stormwater, and of course some updates to the University’s Nutrient Management Plan will need to happen. Of course there are more considerations to make like turning off the lights when the fields are not in use or installing some kind of mechanism for watering the fields only when needed (not when its raining).

17 Responses to “Dream Come True Playground & JMU Recreational Fields on Neff Ave”

  1. Dave Briggman says:

    A playground being built around what is largely college housing? That makes sense — it gives JMU students yet another place to puke.

  2. Frank J Witt says:

    and destroy things…but no one does that…just look how nice and clean the area around their apartments are.

  3. David Miller says:

    If anyone is interested in helping bring this dream to life, You Made It! Paint Your Own Pottery is a great place to do so. We have been fundraising for Dream Come True by offering porcelain tiles to paint. Once you paint your 6” tile, we fire it to 1829 degrees. Then we return your tiles to Barbara Hawkins with Dream Come True so that during construction, the tiles will be grouted onto entrance pillars for the park. It’s a great way to help their cause and have a permanent presence at the park for years to come. Many people have painted in memory of loved ones or just for fun at Fridays On The Square.

    My personal favorite was a young girl who is blind that painted her name in Braille using dimensional paint so that upon completion of the park, she could find her tile on the pillars. I’m very much looking forward to the park. It’s such a cool concept.

  4. Emmy says:

    Oh that’s so cool! How long will you be doing this for?

  5. David Miller says:

    Good question, we’ve been at it for about a year now. So we plan on continuing until the goals are reached. It’s a great excuse to paint some pottery, relax and help out a good cause.

  6. Emmy says:

    We’ll be coming down to do this. The boys want to make animals too, so you’ll be seeing a lot of us!

  7. Thanh says:

    That’s so awesome David. Thanks so much for all the things you and You Made It! Pottery have done with and for the community.<

  8. Barbara Harkins says:

    Thanks for the supportive comments about the playground project, “A Dream Come True.” I am one of the volunteer coordinators of the project and I am beyond thrilled about the new park that is being created just for the accessible inclusive playground that will serve all children in the area. Please come down to You Made It! and paint a tile and have your special spot on the playground. We will continue to decorate tiles for at least the next year. Thanks David! Please contact the Harrisonburg Department of Parks and Recreation with questions about the project and they will provide information about how to get in touch with me directly. Thanks again for all of the great feedback. :) (540 ) 433-9168

  9. Barbara Harkins says:

    I am one of the volunteers who has been working on the playground project for the past six and a half years. We are so excited about a new park being created just for the accessible inclusive playground for all children in the area to enjoy!

    In response to the question about the ceramic tiles, we will continue working on the fund raiser for for at least the next year because we want many people to have a special spot on the playground. Children are going to find it a treasured memory to come to the “A Dream Come True” playground and see their art work displayed in the entrance and sensory garden. Thank you to David and You Made It! for making this opportunity possible.

    We are so thankful to the City of Harrisonburg for all that they are contributing toward the excavation portion of the project as this is a tremendously expensive venture. The volunteers will continue to work hard to raise the remaining $200,000 that is needed for playground equipment and the accessible ground surfacing.

    Business, community service groups, churches and citizens have been quite generous in helping us to raise the first $207,000. We have also secured some significant funding through grants.

    If anyone is interested in having us speak to their business or civic group please contact the Department of Parks and Recreation or email me (pichild@aol.com). (540)433-9168 We would love to share about the playground and why it is such an important contribution to our community.

    Thanks for all of the supportive comments!

  10. Thanh says:

    Here’s an article from the DNR today (October 17) – http://www.dnronline.com/news_details.php?AID=12801&CHID=2

  11. David Miller says:


    Your energy for this project is amazing.

  12. Frank J Witt says:

    Dave, I’m on my way with the gift cert…see you in about 8 minutes…thanks

  13. David Miller says:

    Thanks Frank for the support. In the spirit, I’m matching it for both You Made It and Midtowne.

  14. Thanh says:

    This is in the DNR today. http://www.dnronline.com/news_details.php?AID=13541&CHID=1 “JMU Offers $7 Million For Land: Harrisonburg City Council To Hold Public Hearing Tonight”

  15. June 26,2008
    Please take a look at our web site for the “A Dream Come True” Playground. The all volunteer effort is moving along and we are so exicted to be bringing this playground adventure to the children of our community.

    Please consider helping with Our Lending a Helping Hand fundraiser. Send $5.00 for each child you know and love to help buy playground equipment and accessible ground surfacing. Check the web site, donations page for details on how to make a tax-deductible donations. We appreciate all donations as we continue to work toward our $400,000 goal.

    Have a wonderful day, Barbara Harkins Volunteer Coordinator

  16. I forgot to include the web site address for the “A Dream Come True” Playground in my last comment. Please visit our web site: http://www.adreamcometrueplayground.org
    Barbara Harkins
    Volunteer Coordinator

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.