The Group: Limerick (Pa.) Elementary Home and School League

The Setting: In spring 2002, Limerick HSL President Meg Hunsberger and coleaders dreamed and schemed to construct a shaded picnic area on the school’s grounds, recently depleted of its trees from building renovations.

The Idea: Families raised money while the parent group pinched pennies. By February 2004, they had gathered $10,500. “We found a pavilion that was 20 feet by 25 feet and wrote a gift letter to the district with the check attached,” Hunsberger remembers.

What Went Wrong: “Then...we ran into a roadblock,” Hunsberger says. More like a tangle of red tape—18th century zoning ordinances defined the beautification project as “land development.” Worse, if the HSL wanted any chance of actually getting approval, it would need to pay an additional $7,500, refile the application, and include architectural drawings.

What Happened Next: Despite agreement by town officials that the legal code was outdated and inappropriate, it took more than a year to move forward. But in May 2005, after months of meetings and dozens of heretos and whereupons, the town changed the ordinance, waived the filing fee, and gave the nod to the pavilion project.

The Outcome: “We ordered the pavilion, but the weather got cold,” Hunsberger reports. Finally, in March 2006, the humble shade structure was erected next to the playground. All it needs now is some cement flooring and benches.

Notable Quote: “I thought it would be as simple as building a shed,” Hunsberger says. But she’s ready for round two: “We are waiting to finalize the whole concrete thing.”

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