Friday, April 18, 2014

City sets work dates for new playground at Forest Park

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 1/13/2014

Forest Park could have new playground equipment in time for youths to enjoy it in the spring, city officials said. 

The City of Ottawa’s Play Task Force tentatively has scheduled work days on consecutive Saturdays, March 22 and March 29, to install the playground at the park, 320 N. Locust St., Ottawa. The new playground equipment is to replace a decades-old timber playground structure at the park, project organizers said.

Organizers have raised $141,750 of the estimated $150,000 needed for the new playground, a task force news release said. 

A “Willie Nelson & Other Outlaws Tribute” show has been scheduled 7 p.m. March 29 at Ottawa Municipal Auditorium, 301 S. Hickory St., Ottawa, to help the task force close in on its fundraising goal, the release said. Details about the Branson, Mo.-style show will be finalized later this month, organizers said.

“I am thrilled that we are so close to building [the playground],” Fonda Rose, Play Task Force chair, said. “This project will be a community build, just like the Kanza [Park playground, installed in fall 2011 at the park, 200 W. 15th St., Ottawa]. But we will need even more people.” 

Volunteers likely will need both Saturdays in March to complete the project, organizers estimated, with city crews preparing the site for the work.  

“I know it will be a success and provide a much needed boost to our efforts to get kids playing even more,” Rose said.

Persons interested in volunteering to help install the playground can sign in at: http://ourdreamplayground.kaboom.org and look for Forest Park Adventureland, according to the news release. 

Ongoing fundraising efforts include the recycling of cell phones, laptops, cameras, ink jet cartridges and other small electronics.  

More than $1,500 has been raised from the recycling of electronic the past two years, organizers said, with drop-off locations in Ottawa at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St.; Ottawa Middle School, 1230 S. Ash St.; Eugene Field Elementary School, 720 S. Tremont Ave.; Ottawa Community Recreation Center/Goppert Building, 705 W. 15th St.; Neosho County Community College, 900 E. Logan St.; Ottawa University, 1001 S. Cedar St.; Ottawa Family Physicians, 1418 S. Main St., Suite 5; and local banks. 

Ottawa Family Physicians has a Pennies for Parks collection set up at its office, and numerous businesses and individuals have donated to the project as well, organizers said.

The city last fall received a $20,000 Let’s Play City construction grant from Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that promotes children’s health and fitness.

Sara Caylor, Ottawa mayor, encouraged the community to get involved, by either helping with recycling to raise funds, making a donation or volunteering to help build the playground. 

“This will be another great way to improve our community together, so please join us,“ Caylor said.

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