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Friendship Park raised one-third of needed funds

Friendship Park has reached nearly one-third of its fundraising goals, Sarah Carlson, park group president, reported to the Dickinson Park Board Monday. The effort hopes to create an inclusive playground designed with consideration to children wi...

Friendship Park has reached nearly one-third of its fundraising goals, Sarah Carlson, park group president, reported to the Dickinson Park Board Monday.

The effort hopes to create an inclusive playground designed with consideration to children with special needs such as wheeled mobility, sensory issues, hearing and vision impairment, and compromised immune systems.

The park would be located on Gum Avenue.

"With the $200,000 the park board has pledged, we're approaching half a million," Carlson said.

The raised funds include money being set aside for an endowment.

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"There's about $75,000 set aside to protect part of the maintenance plan for the equipment," Carlson said. "If we have a broken swing, we can use those endowment funds to replace the swing perhaps on a quicker trajectory than utilizing park dollars."

The endowment could also be used to address needs that may have been overlooked.

"If we have a specific user group that says you forgot about this disability or these needs, we can use that money to update the park with some equipment that's specific to their needs," Carlson said.

Funds could also be used to support similar efforts.

"We would be able to offer finances to other playgrounds and parks so a child with disabilities doesn't have just one choices," Carlson said. "There's multiple choices."

She added, "That's far into our future, to have an inclusive playground for every park."

Carlson asked the board to consider in-kind donations, specifically concrete surfacing.

"I know that's complicated as far as the bidding process goes," she said. "I just ask for the openness, that it would really be a large advantage to our project, that you would include that possibility."

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The group continues to meet monthly, Carlson said, and write grants and seek donations from community members.

"Our aim is, we would fundraise for the whole project before we would break ground," she said.

The group hopes to break ground this year, and has a goal of $1.5 million.

"We're about a third of the way, which is encouraging," Carlson said.

The project will be approached in multiple phases.

A shelter house and bathrooms would not be a part of the first phase.

"The group, however, has difficulty imagining that we have this beautiful playground and no facilities for families to use," Carlson said, "so we are going to try to push to fundraise for the whole thing."

The project is being done in cooperation with Dickinson Parks & Recreation.

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"As they get closer to some of their goals, we'll do a (request for proposals) for engineering," James Kramer, parks director, said, "and we'll get that site engineered to the point where we know where the utilities are, what the elevations are, how big it will be."

Carlson requested that work on the park begin sooner than later.

"The group would very much support the engineering process starting," she said. "I think that would help some of the potential fundraisers to see there's action happening with some of the dollars."

Carlson reported that no concerns or comments have been received over the project's Gum Street location.

Related Topics: PARK BOARD
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