Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Playground project pulls big donation, still eyeing $150K goal

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 8/26/2013

Ottawa Play Taskforce is $5,000 closer to realizing its goal of building a new playground in Forest Park.

The Walton Family Foundation has donated $5,000 toward the $150,000 project, taskforce members said. Sam Walton founded the Wal-Mart retail chain.

Ottawa Play Taskforce is $5,000 closer to realizing its goal of building a new playground in Forest Park.

The Walton Family Foundation has donated $5,000 toward the $150,000 project, taskforce members said. Sam Walton founded the Wal-Mart retail chain.

“We were so excited to get some funding through the Walton Family Foundation, a new donor to playgrounds in Ottawa, but we still have to raise more to build our dream playground in Forest Park,” Fonda Rose, Ottawa Play Taskforce chairwoman, said.

The taskforce also recently received a $1,074 check from the Funding Factory — the largest check the group has received to date from the Funding Factory — for recycling phones, ink cartridges, copier print cartridges and other small electronics.

With the Walton donation, the Funding Factory checks and other donations, the taskforce has raised about $114,000 for the playground, members said.

The City of Ottawa also has applied for a $20,000 grant from KaBOOM!, a nationally known nonprofit organization that helps communities build playgrounds for children and promote healthful activities.

If more funds are not raised this fall and the grant request not funded, the playground will be scaled back, organizers said.

“It would be sad to reduce our project, because we have so many things the kids want on this structure, but we will do it in order to build in the spring,” Sara Caylor, Ottawa mayor and taskforce member, said.

The deadline for pledges or gifts, before the project is reduced, is Nov. 1, taskforce members said. The target month to build the playground is March, weather permitting, taskforce members said.

The new playground would replace the timber playground located north of the tennis courts in Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St., Ottawa. The new playground is expected to be located west of the current timber playground to make it closer to the parking, taskforce members said. The new playground is designed with “lots of features to encourage active and inclusive play, or play that works lots of muscles, is accessible and inclusive for those with disabilities, challenging for all ages, but fun,” a release from the Ottawa Play Taskforce said.

An illustration of the playground is on display at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.  

Persons interested in making a donation may send their checks for the playground to the City of Ottawa, marked for Forest Park Playground, to P.O. Box 60, Ottawa KS 66067. Persons also can go online to volunteer to help with the project or donate at http://ourdreamplayground.kaboom.org/projects/10709-forest-park-adventur

Ottawa’s taskforce recently was selected to participate in a Playful City USA Leaders Summit in Baltimore, receiving a stipend to offset travel expenses, the news release said.

“It is exciting to see our city selected as a leader in the nation, especially when you see who else was invited,” Richard Nienstedt, city manager, said.  

Other cities invited include Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Durham, N.C., Fargo/West Fargo, N.D., Louisville, Ky., Orlando, Fla., Pierre, S.D., Pittsburgh, Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C.  

Wynndee Lee, the City of Ottawa’s planning director, is scheduled to attend the summit with Caylor and Rose.

“I am looking forward to hearing some of the other cities’ suggestions that might be helpful to our efforts here,” Lee said.

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