Two groups rasing money for toddler-appropriate playground equipment in Brit Spaugh Park hope to have the “Tot Spot” ordered by May 1, said Rachel Mawhirter from the Barton County Young Professionals.
The YP group is working with the Great Bend Rotary Club to raise $50,000 for a safe and educational outdoor playground set. It is designed for children under 5 years of age, and can be used by children with wheelchairs. The maximum deck height is 48 inches (4 feet), compared to 60 inches (6 feet) on the taller, elementary age equipment in the northeast corner of the park. This equipment will be located west of the elementary equipment.
The public can get involved in this project through donations, and by voting for what color the Tot Spot should be. Vote for blue and green or purple and yellow on the Barton County Young Professionals’ Facebook page. Mawhirter said people should click on the link to vote.
It will take eight to 10 weeks for the equipment to arrive, and another two or three weeks to install – perhaps longer depending on how busy city employees are this summer. Still, Mawhirter said they hope to have everything in place this summer.
Rotarians and YP members came before the Great Bend City Council last December. The city quickly offered a 10-percent “in kind” donation, with the parks department handling the installation and maintenance.
“Great Bend has a lot of nice playground equipment, but most of it is for ages 5-12,” Great Bend Rotary Club President Mary Drake told the council in December. “We wanted to create a space where we could serve toddlers.”
“This will be a destination for family reunions,” Mawhirter said. It is close to a shelter house, the larger playground equipment, grills, the Wetlands Aquatic Center and the zoo. But it will be a safe area where parents can keep an eye on their smaller children.
“We did choose (the equipment) very carefully,” Mawhirter said. Working with the city, they chose equipment that is durable and not easily vandalized. They also chose a molded rubber surface that is soft, easy to for a wheelchair to roll on and “doesn’t get in your shoes.” The ground cover accounts for about a third of the $50,000 cost.
Features include musical elements (built-in chimes and bongos), slides, climbing walls, tunnels and wheelchair ramps. Shade and park benches are also in the plan.
“It’s fabulous for a community of our size,” Mawhirter said. When the Tot Spot is installed, the organizers will celebrate with a donors’ picnic and one lucky child will stand next to the mayor for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Tax-deductible donations may be mailed to Great Bend Foundation, 1125 Williams, Great Bend, KS 67530.
Other project partners are the Golden Belt Community Foundation and Noah’s Park Playgrounds. Organizers have raised 70 percent of the $50,000 goal.