Sunday, July 18, 1999

Playground asks business for a push

Enquirer Contributor

        LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — Fort Liberty Playland volunteers are asking more businesses for financial support to help build the football-field-size playground this fall.

        So far, $140,000 worth of goods, services, cash and grants have been raised by volunteers or donated by businesses and individuals.

        “If we could get some companies to buy the playground equipment that is left to be purchased, we would be close to meeting our $200,000 goal,” said Chris Matacic, president of Friends of Liberty Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit group that's leading the project.

        “We just haven't gotten a lot of business donations,” Mrs. Matacic said. “Liberty Township has very few businesses and they're small businesses.”

        Because the playland will likely draw children from beyond Liberty Township, project volunteers think it's only fair that businesses from neighboring communities lend support.

        The playland was scheduled to be built in May, but because volunteers have had trouble raising money, the construction date was moved to Sept. 20-26.

        “If we don't get what we need, we'll have to cut back the size of the project, and we really hate to have to do that because of the growth in population we're experiencing out here,” Mrs. Matacic said.

        Fort Liberty Playland is being built at The Reserves Park, along the township's hike and bike trail.

        Recent door-to-door solicitations for the playland generated about $500; a farm festival in April and 5K run in May netted $2,000; the township's July 4 festival, which benefits township parks and recreation projects, netted $2,600; and more than 125 fence pickets, to be engraved with the buyers' names, have been sold for $50 apiece.

        The large playground concept using community volunteers was the brainstorm of Leather & Associates Inc., an Ithaca, N.Y., playground design firm. The company has helped communities in the United States, Australia, Canada and Israel build more than 1,200 playlands like Fort Liberty since the early 1970s. About 2,000 volunteers will be needed to build Fort Liberty.

        Call 779-2659 if you're interested in making a donation.


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