PITTSBURG, Kan. —
A $25,000 grant and several small private donations this week brought the goal of Phase 2 of an accessible playground closer to reality, organizers of the project said, but a few thousand more is needed to help close the gap on the cost of shipping.
Organizers said they are hopeful that in the spirit of giving, donors will step forward to make tax deductible contributions before the end of the year.
Called Everybody Plays, the multi-use, multi-generational playground project was initiated several years ago by a grass-roots committee.
The playground is being installed at Schlanger Park in three phases. A swing set outfitted with Zero G chair swings with hard backs and a harness system was installed this fall. The second phase is a $140,000 playground with ramps, four slides, two climbing walls, two canopies and play features. Phase 3 will be a rubber surfacing that will accommodate wheelchairs, strollers and walkers.
Efforts were ramped up this year for Phase 2 through several fundraisers, including the Mini Warrior Dash, the Color Run, the Stage Fright Haunted House and the Give Thanks 5K, all done with the help of a partner, Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Department.
GameTime, a Kansas City-based playground company that had offered the group a matching grant on the second phase of the project, had set a November deadline to align with closing out their fiscal year and getting the playground shipped before Dec. 31.
They extended the deadline to Dec. 5, and then extended it once again in order to allow the group time to find out whether a grant application to the Kansas Health Foundation had been approved.
Kim Vogel, director of parks and recreation, said she learned Wednesday that it had. That nearly closed the gap, she said, but freight costs went up recently, necessitating an additional $7,500.
“We received a private donation of $3,000 to help whittle that down,” said Lou Ann Colyer, a playground committee member who also works advocating for individuals with disabilities. “We still were a little short, but we decided to go ahead and order it so we could take advantage of the matching grant, having faith that a few other donors might step up to the plate between now and the end of the year and make a tax-deductible donation.”
Any donations that exceed what is needed immediately will be put toward the next phase: a rubberized surface.
Vogel called the recent progress “a huge milestone.”
“We want to thank everyone who helped us over the years and stuck with us,” Colyer said. “We have the end in sight now. I can’t wait to see families playing together at Schlanger Park on this equipment.”
Kim Vogel said pledges or donations to the project may be made through the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas or at the Pittsburg Parks and Recreation office.