Joint campaign to improve community parks has been launched

The Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, Presque Isle Rotary Club, United Way of Aroostook and the City of Presque Isle have officially launched their campaign to bring inclusive and safe play to the Riverside Park area. The playground at the park served the community for forty years and provided much enjoyment to community children until the equipment became unsafe and had to be removed.

For this reason, these area service organizations and the city are looking to the community for support. The Riverside Park Playground Steering Committee was formed with representatives from each organization. Committee members have been reviewing several designs over the past several months. Four different playground designs have been chosen. The four designs have price ranges starting at $100,000 to the ultimate goal for this project of $250,000.

The larger the design, the more opportunities for inclusive play will be provided for children. The designs include the first ever handicap-accessible play structures in the Star City. To help make top of the line design a reality, the steering committee is looking for a hero. Giving levels have been put in place and the hero is the top designation. There is only one opportunity to be the hero of the park and that person or company will receive the opportunity to name the park after their donation of $50,000 or more.

This “hero” will also be identified in all promotion surrounding the playground project, as well as named on park signage and donor signage at the park. Five donors are being sought after to be champions of the park. To be a champion, you must donate between $10,000 and $49,999. Those donors will be recognized on the donor sign at the entrance to the park. There is also the chance for ten donors to be Crusaders. Those ten donors are asked to donate between $5,000 and $9,999. Twenty donors that donate between $2,500 and $4,999 will be called Guardians and for those that donate between $1,000 and $2,499, Defenders.

Crusaders, Guardians and Defenders will all be recognized on the donor sign at the park as well. Those interested in a general donation of less than $1000 will be named friends of the park.

City Manager Martin Puckett states that any of the civic organizations within the city can be contacted to support the Community Playground Project. Donations can also be sent directly to the city (made payable to Presque Isle Community Development Association) to the attention of the Playground Project and are tax deductible.

In addition to direct donations you can also support a number of fundraisers put on by the civic organizations. The Kiwanis Club of Presque Isle, The Aroostook Medical Center, and the Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Department are sponsoring a Monster Mash Family Halloween Costume Dance at the Presque Isle Community Center on October 27th with all proceeds going to the Community Park Project.

“This is the second fundraising event Kiwanis has been involved with that will benefit the park directly," said Carla Cambridge, the Kiwanis Club President. "We have enjoyed the collaboration among other organizations to make the park a reality. We will continue our fundraising efforts to further support the park.”

Additionally, Kim Smith, the City of Presque Isle’s Public Information Officer/Grant Writer has researched a number of external funding opportunities and identified nine foundation sources thus far. Proposals have already been submitted to several of these funders to add to the money raised locally for the project. Answers should be received by spring.

The Presque Isle Rotary Club’s annual auction will culminate the fundraising for the park. The auction will take place Saturday, December 16th. The public will notice some significant changes to the auction this year. In lieu of a “Special Project”, the club has designated the playground as its “Community Project.” A portion of their auction general proceeds will be designated to the park.

"This being our 70th Annual Auction, we wanted to do something a little different to celebrate," said Mandy Pooler-Hall, the Rotary President. "In 2014, the Presque Isle Rotary had the opportunity to partner with the City to assist in fundraising for the Community Center. Building this playground will be the final puzzle piece in revitalizing that area and we are happy to be a part of that effort."

Following the auction, the organizations will come together to determine which design will best fit the money raised and finalize the design. Construction on the park will begin in 2018.

The organizations hope that the park will bring families together and strengthen the community the way it has for the city and these civic organizations.