Southold School superintendent David Gamberg was given the green light today to proceed with building a giant custom-designed Mother Goose Shoe structure at the elementary school.
Charles Reichert, owner of the Southold and Greenport IGA markets, donated a sizable amount on Wednesday, which, with the help of an anonymous matching donation, brought the total very close to the goal of $34,000. But the project was still short of its goal. When Reichert found out, he immediately stepped up to make up the difference.
“We are there!” said an excited Gamberg in a telephone interview this afternoon. “It’s incredible.”
“I had taken the preliminary step of contacting the company that will fabricate the structure and they are aware of how close we were and now I’m going to green light it,” said Gamberg.
The process of fabricating will take the better part of the summer and should be ready for installation in September, he said.
“I truly believe that this will make quite a statement about childhood and play and learning that serves to complement an already existing atmosphere at Southold Schools that honors and respects that,” he added.
“I’m so appreciative of the Reichert family, the anonymous donors and the 40 or 50 others who donated amounts as small as $5,” he said.
The Southold School Educational Foundation, through the efforts of its Magical Playscape Committee, raised the funds needed to build the Mother Goose playground.
When asked what sparked his interest in the Mother Goose Shoe project, Reichert said that he thought it was a good idea for the kids.
“We always try to help the children,” he said. “Children hold a special place for me,” said the grandfather of four.
Over the years Reichert has made dozens of donations on the North Fork including uniforms and field improvements to Mattituck High School, a new communications system for the Southold Town Police Department’s dispatch, donations and a loan to the historic fireboat Fire Fighter and most recently money to build a new entryway to the historic Old Burying Ground cemetery in Southold.
Gamberg plans to send students who are enrolled in SoHo TV this fall to New Jersey to film the shoe being fabricated this summer. SoHo students put together the original fundraising video which appears on the project’s GoFundMe page.
Editor’s note: This article has been amended since its original publication to note that the fundraising effort for the Mother Goose playground was a project of the Southold School Foundation.