HOWLAND - Taking one wheelbarrow at a time, more than a dozen volunteers spread tons of brown gravel around recently painted swingsets in Bolindale Park.
The volunteers, ranging from young teens to retirees, spent Saturday morning spreading gravel, picking up trash and cutting tree limbs. The effort was to spruce up an underutilized neighborhood park and make it attractive for residents.
Bolindale Park is one of three parks in Howland.
Dr. Jeffrey LaFuria spent much of the morning cleaning up the park's tennis court.
"I didn't know this park existed," LaFuria said.
"I've played tennis for more than 40 years, so when I saw the court was in disrepair, I knew it was something that I wanted to do," LaFuria said. "I wanted to see tennis available for people in this neighborhood."
A member of the Trumbull County Tennis Association, LaFuria was able to obtain a net and a net puller. He and several other volunteers painted the side poles that hold the net in place.
The tennis association was able to get one court ready for tennis.
"If this is kept up, we'll see if we can get the other side back up," LaFuria said.
LaFuria, who also is a member of the Howland Rotary Club, said they will work with the Howland Health and Wellness Committee to get the sign at the park's entrance redone.
Barbara Rosenblum, a member of Howland's Health and Wellness Committee, said their goal is to create an environment around the township that encourages people to be active and utilize Howland's assets.
Kristen Taylor, a co-chair with Health and Wellness committee, said this weekend's work is only part of a larger effort to make the park more attractive and safer for community residents to use. Working with the Trumbull County Health Department, the township was able to obtain a $5,000 grant, with a local share about $2,500, to purchase and install LED lighting at the park.
Earlier this summer, the swings were painted bright red, and the wooden park benches and pavilion were stained brown by young people working with Trumbull County Job and Family Services..
Trustee Matthew Vansuch said they hope to make the cleanup at the park an annual event.
"What is making today effective is we were able to attract people who live in the neighborhood around the park, social organizations and the township to come out to help," Vansuch said. "It is a real collaborative effort."
Deanna Bollas did not decide to help with the cleanup until Friday night when a friend called.
"I had been telling a friend I wanted to get out and volunteer to give back to the community," Bollas said. "She called me on it."
Rosenblum said once the park is cleaned up, she would love to see a bocce ball court placed in it.
"This is a beautiful park," she said. "It would be great to have more people use it. I can see families using it for reunions and other activities."
Pastor Ray Blasko of Bolindale Christian Church said members of his church have come out to paint and clean up the park in the past.
"We feel blessed," he said. "The Bolindale community doesn't have a lot of assets, but what we do have, we use it."