SOUTHINGTON – The Rotary Club intends to raise $100,000 for a new playground at Veterans Memorial Park, the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by the group.
Kate Sirignano, Rotary director-at-large and owner of Image Marketing Consultants, announced the campaign at the Town Council meeting Monday night. She hopes the money will be raised and the project completed by the spring or summer of next year.
“It is certainly by far our largest project,” Sirignano said. “We have a lot of fundraising to do.”
The existing playground at Memorial Park dates from the 1970s. Dawn Miceli, Town Council vice chairwoman, said the playground is also in a dark, unwelcoming section of the park. Town leaders plan to relocate the playground between the swimming pools and the fields where it’s more visible from the road.
The council had approved $150,000 in the upcoming fiscal year’s capital budget to replace the playscape but Miceli learned that amount wouldn’t be enough for one that was handicapped accessible. The Rotary Club was looking for a large project to undertake and she suggested the fundraiser to club leaders.
The playscape will cost about $200,000. Miceli said it will be handicapped-accessible and in the theme of a pirate ship. Rather than wood chips, the ground will be covered with a rubberized matting.
Miceli said the playground will have 40 components and activities for children of varying ages.
“These things cost a lot of money so we’re going to try to get the biggest bang for their buck,” she said.
With the help of town workers, she’s applying for a $50,000 grant from the Community Foundaiton of Greater New Britain. That would bring the cost of the project for the town down to $50,000.
Councilors praised the Rotary Club’s commitment on the project.
“One hundred thousand, that’s incredible,” said Chris Palmieri, council chairman. “We can’t tell you how much we appreciate Rotary stepping forward to help with this project.”
Sirignano hopes to involve other groups in the park project who can build a community garden or other additions. Rotary members were also looking to help out with the project.
“We’re hoping to do more than just write a check,” Sirignano said. “Our club is looking to get involved from a hands-on perspective as well.”
The Rotary Club will kick off its fundraising efforts with a Fat Tuesday celebration on March 5 at Tavern 42 on West Main Street. Tickets can be purchased at www.southingtonrotary.org.
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