Park group sets sights high for playground

Even as winter closes in, a group of community volunteers is anticipating this summer, when maybe, just maybe, all their hard work will result in a lot fun for kids in Hillsboro?s Memorial Park.

The City of Hillsboro Playground Committee has already identified the piece of equipment it hopes to see erected in the park. Now they just need to raise the money to pay for it.

Shelley Padgett, chair of the city-appointed team to plan and fund new equipment for the park, is hopeful the group will see the ?mega-tower system? erected in time for summer fun.

It will take $45,000 to pay for the multi-apparatus unit that features an activity platform 14 feet off the ground. But their fundraising goal is even more ambitious: $75,000.

?The reason why it?s so much beyond what the actual structure is, is because we have to put in the infrastructure, and that includes the rubber and edging around it,? Padgett said. ?That stuff can run up to $10,000 to make it in compliance.

?Also, we wanted to have something in place so that another committee 10 years down the road wouldn?t have to come and do this again,? she added. ?We?ll have money set aside for the playground. As equipment needs to be replaced, we at least have some basis to work with.?

Padgett, a mother of twins, said her service on the committee had its origins in the occasional comments she made to city officials about the deteriorating condition of the existing playground equipment.

Last winter, several pieces of the equipment, including a large wooden apparatus erected years ago by a civic organization, were removed when they were found to be out of compliance with safety codes.

?They asked, would we be willing to serve on a committee and find some way to help fund some new playground equipment,? she said. ?Several of us said, ?Sure, it?s very important to us.?

?Most of us have little kids. To have a nice park in our community, we felt, was something that was definitely needed.?

Joining Padgett on the committee are Shelley Plett, Cameron Kalua, Jesse Hiebert, Becky Suderman and Emily Dalke.

Doug Sisk, city recreation director, serves with the committee as an adviser and liaison with city government.

The committee?s first task was to research the needs.

?We wanted to make sure it was something children would enjoy, and what ages we were looking at,? Padgett said.

Committee members came with their findings and suggestions. The list that was compiled led to choosing the mega-tower system.

The committee interviewed two companies that specialize in playground equipment. Members chose Miracle Recreation Equipment, which previously has supplied play equipment in the park and at the Sports Complex.

Now that the apparatus has been selected, the fundraising begins in full earnest, Padgett said. She and committee members have made presentations at various civic organizations.

The committee hopes to announce a major gift soon.

The committee would welcome financial contributions from groups or individuals that have interest in serving the needs of community children.

?We?re just hoping the community supports this,? Padgett said. ?When you drive by on Ash Street and look over to the park, it?s going to be an impressive structure. We hope families that come here to visit will want to come and play on it, too.?

Padgett said she and the committee have enjoyed the process so far and are pleased with the progress they?ve made.

?I?ve felt like we?ve come a long way as far as being a volunteer organization meeting when we can,? Padgett said ?To get this far to have a plan in place and starting the fundraising process, I think we?ve come a long way.?

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