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Updated: June 10, 2024

Bath nonprofit promotes green space, playground use via the power of music

A colorful xylophone is attached to a stand outdoors. Photo / Courtesy, Bath at Play The installation at Bridge Park includes a colorful cavatina constructed of marine grade materials and designed to withstand the elements year-round.

A community group in Bath has completed a functional public art installation in the city’s Bridge Park to promote its use by visitors, residents and music lovers.

The installation at 23 Commercial St. consists of a large xylophone and a four-page music book, both constructed of marine grade materials and designed to withstand the elements year-round.

The xylophone, also called a cavatina, is made by Percussion Play as a durable outdoor instrument and has rainbow-colored bars that correspond to colorful notes in the music book.

The nonprofit Bath at Play unveiled the installation, for a one-year trial, as its first community-funded project, called Riverwalk Rhythm, on May 18.

A pretty bare park sits next to a waterway and bridge.
Photo / Courtesy, Bath at Play
Bridge Park is tucked under the Route 1 Sagadahoc Bridge. A goal of the musical installation is to attract visitors and residents.

“Bath is the City of Ships, but it's also a city of music — from the year-long programming at the Chocolate Church Performing Arts Center to the Summer Concert Series at the waterfront and in Library Park,” said John Byram, co-founder and president of Bath at Play.

“We wanted to bring that appreciation of music and art to kids in a playful way that also gets them into the outdoors.”

The project evolved out of a discussion between city staffers and Bath at Play in November 2022 on a low-impact solution for the then newly created Bridge Park green space on Commercial Street (formerly the Guilford Parking Lot) under the Route 1 Sagadahoc Bridge. 

Community input will be gathered through an online survey to help shape the future direction of this project. 

The project was entirely funded through community donations and in-kind business sponsorships.

Since October 2023, Bath at Play has raised over $8,000 for the project toward its initial fundraising goal of $10,000. 

Community and business supporters included Madeline’s Mission, Precast of Maine, Home Depot in Topsham, Bath Savings Institution in Bath, First Federal Savings in Bath, Morningstar Stone and Tile, Anthony P. Keefe Builder, Sisters Gourmet Deli Bath, Hannaford Cooks Corner and Maine’s First Ship.

Main Street Bath and the city also helped navigate the project to completion.

Bath at Play says its goal is to empower Maine communities through dynamic, inclusive play by funding, establishing, and maintaining privately funded community spaces for Maine’s current and future generations.

Byram, an audiologist, moved to Bath with his family in 2021.

“I founded Bath at Play because I have experienced first-hand how community playgrounds and green spaces can positively impact a community,” he said in his bio.

The founder of Bath at Play stands in a park.
Photo / Courtesy, Bath at Play
John Byram

The nonprofit is also working on an enhancement project for the Huse School Playground, near the Huse School Apartments. Due to the playground’s location, there is a lack of natural shade and the playground becomes very hot during the day, especially during the summer, according to Bath at Play.

Enhancements are expected to occur over three phases as funding becomes available. Last year, eight mature trees were planted to provide immediate shade. Planned is the installation of rubber matting and engineered wood fiber on the playground surface; the addition of an adaptive swing seat to the existing swings; and building a sail-style shade structure that covers portions of the existing play equipment.

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