Children’s Park: Help provide the foundation; pour the last funds into a special place

The home stretch is here for reconstructing a vital community asset: the playground at Hood River Children’s Park.

The Children’s Park Rebuild is being financed with matching $150,000 contributions from the City of Hood River and Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District. The remaining $135,000 budget required to build the community-designed park are hoped to be raised by individual and business donations, with close to $100,000 already committed. The total project cost of $435,000 is based on actual supplier costs and estimates for the final Children’s Park design, including site preparation, materials, playground equipment, freight transport, and incidentals like fencing and recognition plaques.

Now, the Children’s Park Rebuild faces a gap in funding that could result in park plan modifications, most significantly the elimination of what is called Poured-In-Place. Those helping will be commemorated with engraved boards, also known as pickets, that will line the playground just as was done with the former structure, torn down last month.

As the city has stated, “An additional $35,000 in community donations would finance the Poured-In-Place (PIP) surface, which allows for a softer, safer, more durable and accessible playing surface for the playground, the city said in a press release. If the budget goal is not met, an alternative ground surface would be a less expensive, less desirable chip surfacing that lacks many benefits offered by PIP. “

Sure, the park will be built without Poured-In-Place; the project is that far along now, but a key safety feature depends on one last boost of funding. It matters in terms of fully meeting Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, and offering long-term cost savings due to lower maintenance costs.

These are significant motivations for making up that funding gap. We encourage the community to conclude the funding home stretch.

Now, the private-public partnership aspect of this has had its detractors; the knock on this funding model reads something like, “Why should residents have to crowd fund a city-owned park?”

The short answers to that are that sweat equity and community fundraising were needed in 1992 and they are needed now. Children’s Park would never have happened in the first place if the community hadn’t handled it, albeit with city land and resources.

Due north, on the banks of the Columbia, is another park that provides a more recent example mirroring the origins and development of Children’s Park.

Ten years ago, the port, city, and local citizens locked arms, literally and figuratively, to create Hood River Waterfront Park. The port provided the land, valued at $1.7 million, and the city facilitated a matching state parks and recreation grant totaling $800,000, and community donations generated $387,000, coordinated by the citizen-based Waterfront Park Association.

These things get done, especially in Hood River, because the community makes them happen.

Tax deductible donations can be made online (gofundme.com/childrenspark) or mailed to the Hood River Rotary Foundation at P.O. Box 1187, Hood River, OR 97031 (note “Children’s Park Fund” in check memo). If you can help, visit cityofhoodriver.com, facebook.com/childrensparkrebuild or email childrenspark@cityofhoodriver.com.

Donations of $100 will be honored with engraved fence pickets at the park site. Donors are encouraged to purchase fence pickets by May 12.

There are also five levels of sponsorships beginning at $500 dedicated to specific play structure elements.

Think of the pleasure of coming back to the park in one year or 10 and seeing that board with your name on it.

If you can’t help financially, consider signing up for the week-long park build project, the first week of June.

More sweat equity has to happen. In that first week of June, it will be all-hands-on-swing set.



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