Fundraising ideas for two new all-ability playgrounds were discussed during Monday’s park board meeting.

The goal is have $293,00 raised by the fall, officials said.

Public Works Director Jason Ivie led the discussion on how the city can raise funds for an all-abilities playground at Evergreen Park and at Orchard Park. The cost for both playgrounds is $293,000, which includes the rubber surfaces.

Ivie mentioned partnering with a nonprofit or an organization such as the St. Clair Elks to help raise funds. He also is looking into grants, where 50 percent of funds would be matched.

Alderwoman Amanda Sikes said municipalities are not eligible to receive most grants and by partnering with a nonprofit or an organization such as the Elks, the city would be able to be awarded grant funds.

Park Board President Dana Collins-Messex told The Missourian that any grant funds received would be funneled through a nonprofit organization and put aside in a bank account.

Ivie said he will go before the Elks board to present the idea soon.

He also suggested asking community members and businesses to contribute to the cause.

According to Ivie, there are 5,531 housing units within the zip code 63077, which includes areas outside the city limits, and 220 businesses within the city limits.

“That gives us about 5,751 potential funding sources for the playgrounds,” he said. “If we can get everyone to contribute, that’s like $52 per place, per business, per household.

“It’s not an incredible amount of money; it is for some, others not so much.”

He added that information about the playgrounds could be sent out to community members and businesses, along with a letter seeking donations or volunteer help to remove the old playground equipment.

Another fundraising idea Ivie mentioned is partnering with Farmers & Merchants Bank to do a similar program to the Bulldog Debit program, which helped the school district pay for a new high school entrance sign.

For those who have a Bulldog debit card and select credit when purchasing items, the district receives money as a promotional kickback from VISA. Ivie said he has talked with vendors used by the city and they are willing to help financially.

“The goal would be to reach this $293,000 number by the fall,” he said. “It’s going to be a chore and a task, but I think we can get there.”

For those who donate $500 to $1,000 or more, a vinyl sticker with their name will be placed on one of the playgrounds, Ivie said.

Collins-Messex said the park board has possible opportunities of manning concession stands in April, June and August to help raise funds, as well as 50/50 raffles.

The fundraising push overall is “bold and it’s big, and it’s going to be a challenge, but I think we can do it,” Ivie said.

Next month, park board members will attend a Missouri Parks seminar, which will offer classes in applying for grants and other subjects that may help with the playgrounds project, according to Collins-Messex.

“We’re trying to work as hard and as fast as we can for this,” she said.

Background

Last year park board members heard a presentation from Steve Casada and Bethany Smisson with Play & Park Structures on options for an all-abilities playground, which is also called an all-inclusive playground.

An all-abilities playground is one where children of all abilities can play on – whether they have special needs, disabilities or those who are developing typically.

In September, the former Jumpstart organization donated $5,000 toward the all-abilities playgrounds.