Park is on the Upswing March 08, 2018
Marshfield Service Group Works Towards Park Rehabilitation
From the City of Coos Bay
The Marshfield High School (MHS) Key Club has been investing time and eagerness towards a large “forever” project that is bound to brighten the smiles of children and families in the community. The Key Club adopted the distressed 10th Street Park from the City of Coos Bay, outlining their goal to transform the dilapidated playground into an accessible and attractive place for children and families to enjoy.
Since 2002, the park has been known as Optimists Park, however active stewardship has been lacking and the grounds have since decayed from the weather, drainage problems, and vandalism. This small “pocket” park has lost much of its aesthetic appeal and usability over the last few years. MHS Key Club Advisor Stacey Gulseth had noticed the small park back in 2005 when she first began working at the high school as an educational assistant. Located just a couple of blocks from MHS, its dilapidated basketball court and chipped swings resembled more of a gloomy eyesore than an inviting playground.
During the 2016-2017 school year, Gulseth moved into the position of Key Club Advisor. Her position description included assisting the newly revived Key Club to undertake meaningful community service projects. Remembering the woeful condition of the neighborhood park, Gulseth lead the Key Club students on the short walk down from the high school on 10th Street. After looking at the condition of the playground, the students were moved to come up with alternatives that could improve the space. The Key Club members understood the importance of children having access to a safe, outdoor playground and became motivated at the prospect of adopting the park at a long-term project. The Key Club began visioning what changes were needed most, including replacing the forlorn swing set and slide, neglected picnic area and damaged basketball court.
The Key Club began organizing their ideas into a proposal format. The park adoption would create a new chapter in the Key Club’s mission to provide service while building partnerships between the school, the community, and businesses. Although the initial project would be focused on raising $35,000 for new playground equipment, Gulseth and Key Club members identified 10th Street Park as a “forever” project which would be passed on to future MHS Key Club members as a community stewardship commitment for years to come.
Students took their idea to the City of Coos Bay during the 2016-17 school year, appealing to the Public Works and Development Administrator Randy Dixon. After a student-led presentation, Dixon was so impressed with the Key Club’s enthusiasm that he suggested the group share their plan with the Parks Commission Board and Coos Bay City Council for support. Dixon also outlined what property upgrades the City could provide in support of the project. The 10th Street Park is included in the Coos Bay Master Plan with a series of recommended updates outlined for the 2018-2020 biennium. However, the adoption of the property by the MHS Key Club, along with subsequent fundraising efforts, provided a chance to create a dramatically updated playground and improve safety features that could markedly enhance the neighborhood.
Tenth Street Park, just a block from Marshfield High School, has suffered considerable decay due to weather, drainage problems, and vandalism.
City of Coos Bay Public Works staff, Playground Equipment Sales Representative, and MHS Key Club member view the park site and condition.
Key Club members organize the first community clean-up at the park on Earth Day 2017. The volunteers cleared overgrown brush, pulled weeds, and collected debris.
The Key Club hosted the Parks Commission Board Meeting in November 2016. Key Club students presented their request for the 10th Street Park Adoption and outlined their plans to transform the playground. The Commission endorsed the proposal and by March 2017, the City Council approved the 10th Street Park Rehabilitation Project and a cost estimate of $97,147 from Public Works Department. MHS Key Club fundraising and in-kind donation collection will cover $52,000 of this estimated expense. The remaining $45,000 will be City funded to address site improvements including:
- Leveling the ground
- Fixing drainage
- Fill dirt
- Seeding for grass areas
- Pedestrian access
- Regrading access road
- Improving parking area and turn around
- Materials to improve access road and parking
- Prepping area for new basketball half-court
With a positive working relationship between the City of Coos Bay and the MHS Key Club, Gulseth went to work to secure the bulk of the funding for the playground equipment by soliciting for community donations, writing grants, and contacting local businesses for support towards the $35,000 budget goal. Gulseth submitted grant proposals along with requests for project support to civic clubs, foundations, and businesses. The list of awards and supporters of the 10th Street Park Rehabilitation Project includes:
Coos Bay/North Bend Rotary Club: $2,500
Wal-Mart Community Giving Grant: $500
KaBOOM! Let’s Play Grant: $15,000
Coquille Tribal Community Foundation: $1,386
Kiwanis Club: $200
Lions Club: $750
Alternative Healing: $100
SOLVE IT: $100
Farr’s True Value: $400
Pacific Properties Real Estate: $100
Various Community Members: $860
Coos Bay Volunteer Fire Dept. Association: $1500
Charleston Volunteer Fire Dept. Association: $200
Coos Head Builders, ProBuild and Lowe’s (Roseburg): 90 lbs total of concrete
United Rental: Augers and wheel barrels
Les Schwab Tires (Coos Bay): Rubber mats
Knife River: Concrete for a basketball court
Community Member: Tractor use
Farwest Tires: Monster truck tires
Coos Bay Schools Foundation: 2 park benches
Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital: Dog waste station
Coquille Indian Tribal Grant: Basketball hoop and anchor
The largest, single grant award comes from KaBoom! Let’s Play, a national non-profit. This organization has a partnership with Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS) and Good Sports to build playgrounds and provide sports equipment to encourage outdoor play. Gulseth was instrumental in securing this grant award and has been working to follow funding requirements such as ensuring ADA accessibility in the purchasing of playground equipment. Overall, Gulseth said this competitive grant has provided a valuable jumpstart for connecting with a regional Playground Equipment Representative and determining what structures would be most appropriate for Tenth Street Park.
Concepts for the new playground were used to help communicate the project to the community. The Key Club began holding garage sales, can drives, car washes, and made recycled birdfeeders to raise funds.
The MHS Key Club students also organized a myriad of local fundraising events over the last two years including can/bottle drives, car washes, proceeds from working school concessions, garage sales, a Parent’s Night Out event, delivering Candy Cane Grams and Valentine Grams, all of which collected over $9000 towards the project.
As funding and support for the rehabilitation project has grown, the Key Club needed to prepare the park grounds for updated construction. On Earth Day 2017 in April, the students coordinated a community clean-up at the park. Volunteers rolled up their sleeves to clear overgrown brush, pull weeds, prune vines, and collect debris as the first phase of preparation. The success of the turnout during that event has prompted the Club to plan a second community work party on Earth Day 2018 on Saturday, April 21. Volunteers will be focusing on finishing touches including tree and brush removal, filling new planter boxes, construction of horseshoe pits, and staining the picnic structure. The Key Club is also asking for the community to take part in building the playground during Construction Week from May 16-19, 2018, with May 18 being earmarked for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
At this point, the Key Club needs less than $10,000 to reach their goal by April 2018. If you are interested in supporting the project or getting involved with the community work party, please contact Club Advisor Stacey Gulseth at 541-269-6652 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.