Bristol playground effort seeks $25,000

BRISTOL — Organizers of the Bristol Green Playground Project say they need to raise an additional $25,000 to fully fund construction of a new playground on the town green.
The group, called the Bristol Green Playground Committee, hopes to raise the funds by the end of April.
The bulk of the remaining funds will be used to pay for synthetic surfacing for the playground, which is expensive. Surfaces such as mulch or wood chips would be cheaper, but committee member Krista Siringo said they are less accessible for people in wheelchairs and likely do not adhere to the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA.
The committee plans to install a synthetic turf manufactured by XGrass, a company that specializes in surfacing for playgrounds, athletic fields and gymnasiums. This turf is colored green to resemble grass and is non-toxic, non-flammable and ADA-compliant.
So far, organizers have raised $75,000 through grants and donations. A fundraising campaign on the website indiegogo.com raised $12,765 — exceeding the group’s $11,000 goal. More than 100 people contributed money.
Siringo heralded the success of the initial fundraising campaign.
“Indiegogo was a tremendous success,” Siringo said. “It was a great kickoff for us, and gave us a lot of visibility.”
Instead of turning to online fundraising this time around, Siringo said the committee will go further afield.
“We’re going to try to broaden our reach to (community) members who haven’t taken advantage of (Indiegogo), and who aren’t as dialed in to social media,” Siringo said.
To do this, Siringo said the committee plans to hold an outreach event on the Bristol green in late April or early May, to inform people who don’t peruse the Internet every day about the project.
The group also was awarded a $15,000 grant from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit that provides communities and schools funding for playground equipment. The conditions of this grant dictate that the funds must be used for equipment from a list of vendors, and therefore can’t be used for playground surfacing.
The project has also received donations totaling $30,000 from the Vermont Community Foundation, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Green Mountain Access, Waitsfield Telecom, the Ronald McDonald House and the Bolger Foundation.
The committee has yet to hear back from a handful of additional grant applications, and has struggled to find grants they could use specifically for playground surfacing. Thus, Siringo said organizers will rely heavily on individual donations to raise the last $25,000.
The group plans to break ground on the project by the beginning of June, which means the funding must be secured by the end of the spring so the site can be excavated.
Organizers are in the process of securing both town and state permits. Members of the playground committee will meet with the town design review committee on March 24, and Siringo said she expects the permitting process to be complete within the next month. The Bristol selectboard has already endorsed the project.
After holding a contest this past fall in which anyone was welcome to submit a design, the committee selected a plan by Mary Beth Stilwell of MB architecture + design of Lincoln. The new playground will be built on the site of the existing playground, which has swings that are more than a half-century old and elements that do not comply with the ADA.
Donations can be made through the Paypal function on the Bristol Green Playground Committee Facebook page.

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