Friends of Fulton Parks is looking to the city’s residents to determine which park will be the group’s primary focus next year.
The non-profit organization announced its “Raise the Bar at Your Park” initiative Monday, in which community members are asked to make a financial contribution toward the park of their choice as a way of voting for which park the organization designates as its primary focus in 2015.
“We want the community to give its input on which park should get the focus next year,” said Kelley Weaver, one of the organization’s board members. “We want it to be based on community support and interest, not just something we decide on.”
Weaver said the organization picks a particular park to focus on each year. Once it’s chosen, Friends of Fulton Parks devotes its resources to hosting community fundraisers and seeking grant money from various foundations and corporations to fund upgrades in that park.
As a way of selecting next year’s park, the organization is asking community members to make some sort of monetary donation, however large or small, in the name of either Foster, Hulett, Patrick, Recreation or Van Buren park. Weaver has set an ultimate goal of raising $28,000 for each park. Whichever park is closest to that mark by Jan. 1, 2015 will receive the “primary focus” designation.
“It could be any amount. It could be a dollar if that’s all a person can give. Yes, this itself is a sort of fundraiser, but what we’re really trying to do here is see which parks the community wants us to be focused on,” Weaver said. “We need, and want, the community input. Calling out to the community to say ‘which parks do you want us to be working on?’ allows residents to get in on the planning.”
Each of those parks is in need of playground equipment, though the specific needs at each park differs. For instance, the organization is trying to raise money to install equipment designated for older kids, ages 12 and up, at Recreation Park. At Foster Park, which recently received a $1,500 donation from the Fulton Sunrise Rotary club, the organization plans to install equipment geared toward younger children, ages 2 through 12. That equipment is slated to be installed next spring, Weaver said.
Weaver said, regardless of which park becomes the 2015 primary focus, the money given during the “Raise the Bar” campaign will only be used on the park named in the donation.
“If someone makes their contribution toward a specific park, that’s where that money will go,” Weaver said.
The organization has three goals it sets for its projects each year, which are to maintain safe playgrounds in compliance with insurance safety inspection requirements, promote developmental benefits to children through play, and provide community events at the parks. Last year’s primary focus was Hulett Park.
To achieve the first goal, the group installed safe-landing material at the Voorhees Park Playground, and C.V. Abbott Playground in Hulett Park.
Using $16,000 in grant money given by the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, and other donations from local individuals, the group accomplished its second goal last year by having a space cleared in Hulett Park for the installation of the new playground equipment. However, Weaver said the group still needs $9,500 to complete that installation this summer.
In fulfillment of the third goal, the group coordinated four community events in the parks last year, as well as 15 different volunteer clean-up events, Weaver said.
Weaver said people interested in getting involved with the projects or fundraising can mail their name and preferred contact information with $5 dues to Friends of Fulton Parks, P.O. Box 572, Fulton. Donations for the “Raise the Bar” campaign can be made in the same way.