SHIRLEY -- The Play Board of Shirley presented an overview of the group's latest project to the selectmen on a recent Monday night, with promises of more to come.

Thanks to grants, donations, fundraising and other volunteer efforts, there have been "big changes" at the Lura A. White Elementary School playground, according to Susan Heinz and James Quinty, who described the recent project. Unlike the last time they came with a project to promote, this one raised no objections at the table.

Some time ago, Quinty and Heinz, with a grant deadline looming, asked for the selectmen's approval to pave a rear section of the basketball court, in part for handicap access.

Unfortunately, the paving work would have to wait, they were told then, because with the school's sewer hookup pending, it might mean digging up the area, new surface and all.

Quinty protested, arguing that it should be relatively simple to pinpoint the location of the next dig and find a way to work around it, short of ripping up the new pavement.

Besides, Heinz said, the grant money would go away if it weren't used. She asked why the plan couldn't go ahead anyway, even if the surface had to be redone later.

The selectmen, however, nixed that idea as a waste of time and money.

With no such hurdles inherent in the current project, they had no qualms this time around.

"We planted two elm trees," in the area in question, but they're not big enough yet to provide the desired shade umbrella, Quinty told the board. Thus, the proposed 9-by-21-foot shade structure.

The Play Board has spoken to all other interested parties, Quinty continued, and had cleared the shade structure plan and location at the rear of the bleacher seating area, well apart from playground structures, with the school and the Recreational Fields Committee. They also provided a sketch for the building inspector, who also seemed "fine" with the proposal as presented, he said.

Materials will include a galvanized steel roof, with pressure-treated poles ensuring that the structure "will be extremely strong and safe," Quinty said.

Plans are in the works for other grant and donation-funded LAW playground improvements, too, Quinty said, such as a handicapped-accessible swing.

Call to Town Counsel

The town has a new town policy that calls for department heads that report to the selectmen to submit a form before calling Town Counsel at the town's expense. In keeping with the policy, the board received and approved a request from Treasurer Kevin Johnston to consult Town Counsel in his ongoing efforts to collect unpaid health insurance premiums. Noting that the matter had been discussed at length, Swain said the board fully supported the request.