A climbing structure is one of the elements being proposed by a resident looking to add a public playground in Bath, which now only has one in the entire city. Contributed / John Byram

A new vessel may be anchored in the City of Ships if a play structure shaped like a boat is built in Library Park.

John Byram, a stay-at-home dad with three children under the age of 5, noticed upon moving to Bath from Boston last year that the city had only one community playground. He has been working with city officials to see if a playground can be built in the park at 43 Summer St.

“The idea is that it would be private fundraising,” Byram said. “Hopefully, local businesses can contribute, but we understand that fiscally it’s been a rough couple of years. We estimate a two-to-three-year timeline for fundraising.”

He estimates that the project, including long term maintenance, will likely cost around $500,000.

While there are playgrounds at local schools, Byram said his young family can’t use those playgrounds during the school year. 

To gauge community opinion, Byram is surveying Bath residents.


“I felt it was important to find out what the community as a whole feels. So far, it’s been overwhelming support,” he said. “Pretty much every parent I’ve spoken to in person, as well as a number of comments on the survey, have said that we need something more than what we have.” 

According to data on Byram’s Bath at Play’s website, 189 of the 194 respondents are in favor of the installation of a playground, and 173 support the proposed location in Library Park.

He is also open to other potential sites.

“If there’s a generous citizen who has an empty lot that fits the requirements and is willing to donate that land, that would speed things up,” Byram said. 

The one public playground Bath has is not shaded and after 10 a.m. or so it , “gets really hot,” Byram said. “The other element is that it’s not within a reasonable walking distance from downtown.” 

John Byram is offering residents multiple options for a new playground so residents can select those they want to include. Contributed / John Byram

Byram said he selected a ship structure for the playground because “the City of Ships needs a nautically themed playground.” 


Because he’d like the play structures to be made from sustainable materials, the decision was made to go with wood.

“We want to keep things sustainable and natural, and not the traditional brightly colored metal and plastic,” he said.  

Byram’s initial proposal included one larger ship structure, a smaller boat and a swing set, but with the understanding it all depends on the location.

 “If we need to have a smaller space, we might have to limit what can go with as far as structures,” he said. 

Byram has begun the process of incorporating his new organization, Bath at Play, as a nonprofit to move forward in gaining federal tax-exempt status as a charitable organization.  

“In the future, I hope that our experiences here in Bath will allow Bath at Play to be a platform for other Maine communities in need of additional or renewed community play spaces,” he said. 


Library Park is owned by the city, and Byram has been meeting with the Community Development Committee to gain its support before taking the proposal to the City Council.

“There are so many great ideas on how to make Bath a more playful city and the committee is just beginning the process to think through the possibilities,” said Emily Ruger, director of the Community and Economic Development Committee. “We want our city to be an attractive place for families with young children, so this is an important conversation.”

Playgrounds are important, he said.

“The playgrounds in any community are cornerstones for both children and families. They act as meeting spots for families and neighbors and help foster friendships that can be lifelong,” Byram said, and “a properly designed playground helps with children’s creativity and cognitive development.” 

For more information, visit bathatplay.org.

Comments are not available on this story.