Fundraising for playground equipment discussed

EAST LIVERPOOL – Ways to raise funding for new playground equipment were discussed this week by the Thompson Park board, including securing grants and going to the public for donations.

Superintendent J.C. Blackhurst and board member Samantha Kinemond lamented that even a basic piece of equipment costs $75,000, whereas a “nice” piece costs upwards of $250,000.

“You get sticker shock real quick when you look at playground equipment,” President Burl Warrick agreed.

Blackhurst said a resident at the local hospital “seems enthusiastic” about helping raise money for the playground, noting the resident and his family use the park regularly.

A Nature Works grant awarding up to $1.5 million is only awarded bi-annually and won’t be available until May 2015, Blackhurst said, adding that the grant provides 75 percent reimbursement for the cost of a project.

Another grant being looked at provides money for projects in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, and Warrick encouraged Blackhurst and Kinemond to come up with some projects in that price range then submit an application.

Board member Betsy Wells referred to a recent Internet contest sponsored by Coca-Cola in which thousands of people voted for Thompson Park, saying, “All these people voted for the park. How do we get them to donate five bucks (toward the playgrounds)?”

Member Wink Smith said, “I recommend you get a plan, pick (a piece of playground equipment) out then go to folks and say, ‘This is what we want.’ I think that would help raise the money.”

The board gave its approval to two upcoming events to be held at the park, including a benefit dog walk and a motorcycle-themed wedding.

Marsha McGinnis and Glenn Taylor of the animal rescue group Paws-R-Riding On It, asked to hold the group’s second annual dog walk at 1 p.m. May 4, with a rain date of May 11, saying last year’s inaugural event was held at a Lisbon park but they wanted to bring it to this area since most of those who benefit from the group’s efforts are in this area.

In addition to the dog walk, plans call for a cookout, a dog training demonstration and other activities, with proceeds used toward pet food, adoption and fostering efforts, spay and neuter programs and other needs.

The wedding approved by the board would entail several motorcycles being parked on the lawn during the ceremony, prompting Smith to say, “That would be cool,” and Wells to offer, “They’re more than welcome.”

Kinemond also mentioned she had been approached by St. Clair Township’s K-9 officer Chris Davis about possibly placing a memorial in the park for fallen canine officers. She is to get more information on what he has in mind for the monument.

Blackhurst reported that the outhouses near Pavilion No. 1 are in bad condition, with the roof caving in, and Wells balked at spending money to repair it, saying she opposed “Putting money into a crappy crapper when we need money for so many other things.”

The board agreed to have Blackhurst check into the cost of renting porta-johns for that area.

Blackhurst also reported Kent State University will provide several students the last week of March through its alternate spring break program who will provide free labor for a week.

“I can definitely keep them busy for a week,” he smiled.

The board’s next meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. April 15 in council chambers at City Hall.