Tomahawk Together raising funds for all-inclusive playground at Washington Square Park
Non-profit organization seeking community support
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
TOMAHAWK – Tomahawk Together, a non-profit organization that has worked to support families and youth in Tomahawk for more than 30 years, has taken on a new project: an all-inclusive playground.
The new playground would be located at Washington Square Park, also known as “Toddler Park,” on N. 4th St. in Tomahawk.
“The ultimate goal for the park is to create a new, go-to, central playground for the children of Tomahawk and our visiting families to have an inclusive place to play,” said Cathy Schmit of Tomahawk Together. “This inclusive play space will provide access, promote inclusive play between children of all abilities, and develop the whole child while at the same time developing our community. We will provide children and families with an inclusive environment that will promote playing together more independently, where our children feel respected and nurtured by our community during their active playtime at the playground.”
In May, the City of Tomahawk Park and Recreations Committee gave the organization the green light to move forward with their efforts.
The park is still in its early planning stages, and Tomahawk Together is seeking the community’s support in making the playground a reality.
Lee Recreation LLC, a Cambridge, Wis.-based company that supplies playground equipment to communities in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, provided a proposal for the playground. The proposal laid out the park’s dimensions, potential playground equipment, called “play events,” and a breakdown of estimated costs.
The company estimated that the minimum area needed for the playground would be 108 feet by 107 feet.
The key component of the park is its 9,500-square-foot Playbound poured-in-place, wheelchair-accessible surface. Schmit explained that in order to install the surface, which will also act as a cushion in the event of a fall, a foundation must be built underground.
“The foundation is built in depth according to the height of the piece of equipment above it,” she said. “The higher the piece (of equipment), the deeper the soft foundation materials need to be. (The foundation) won’t go deeper than 36 inches, which is good, because the old Washington School foundation is just below that.”
The park would feature 51 play events for an estimated 264 users.
Two modular play structures, one for children ages two to five and the other for children ages five to 12, were included in the proposal. The structures feature numerous climbing and balanced-focused play events, slides, play activity panels, and tunnels.
Swings, a spinner, a train engine, various games, a welcome sign, and a music area with chimes and drums would also be part of the playground.
There would also be a strength training area for adults, allowing them to also be active while their children play.
A serenity area for children with autism is included in the proposal. The area could also be used for children to rest.
Although some equipment is geared toward specific age groups, the park would ultimately have no age restraints, Schmit explained. High school students and all others would be welcome to use the playground.
Schmit added that if the group reaches its fundraising goal, it may try to raise more money to install zip lines, which are popular attractions at similar parks.
All equipment is designed to stay true to the goal of complete inclusivity, allowing people of all abilities to enjoy the playground.
Costs, fundraising efforts
When all the costs are added up, the park will carry a substantial price tag.
Lee Recreation estimates the park will cost $343,047.00. Much of the cost, about $171,000.00, is attributed to the playground’s surface.
About $155,647.00 will be allocated to equipment, and another $39,000.00 will go toward installation. $900.00 in freight and a $23,500.00 project discount round out the estimated costs.
Tomahawk Together aims to raise the roughly $340,000.00 in a variety of ways.
Schmit said the group is using a “stone soup” strategy of fundraising, referring to the centuries-old European folk tale in which hungry strangers convince the residents of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a communal meal enjoyed by everyone.
Community support will be a large factor in raising the needed funds. Ultimately, if many people pitch in a little, the group will be able to reach its goal, Schmit explained.
Individuals, families, businesses, and other groups interested in contributing to the park have the opportunity to sponsor playground equipment. Schmit noted that because sponsoring the playground’s surface, which makes up for the bulk of the cost, may not sound as glamorous as sponsoring a play event, Tomahawk Together suggests donors use some funds to sponsor equipment while also allocating money to the playground’s surface.
Donors can also sponsor benches that would be installed in the park.
Tomahawk Together hopes that area residents who work for companies that are potentially willing to offer corporate donations and grants will pursue those opportunities.
The group will utilize grant writing as one facet of acquiring funds. Grace Lutheran has received a $1,500.00 grant offered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Schmit said.
Schmit said “playful fundraising” could be fun and effective. Local businesses, churches, and groups could challenge each other to see who can raise the most money.
One local couple donated their stimulus checks to the group’s efforts, which is another option for those who want to contribute, Schmit noted.
Wurl-Feind-Ingman VFW Post 2687 and Auxiliary last week committed to funding an individual element of the playground.
The park will feature a donor board recognizing all who helped bring the playground to fruition.
Draft of park plan available for viewing; donation, contact info
A draft of the playground plan is on display and can be viewed in the lobby of Tomahawk Community Bank, 15 E. Wisconsin Ave., Tomahawk.
Checks for donations may be made out to Tomahawk Together and mailed to Cathy Schmit, 505 Charles Ave., Tomahawk, Wis., 54487.
For more information regarding the playground, contact any of the following Tomahawk Together members: Cathy Schmit, 715-612-8105; Patti Hilgendorf, 715-966-0996; Sue Hawkins, 715-612-7555; Kay Berg, 715-966-0877; Kay Kissinger-Wolf, 715-367-8284; Christianna Lobermeier, 715-360-4766; or Kayci Stevenson, 715-499-4404.