Tori Sutton, Stratford Gazette
A group of volunteers hopes that by raising a little cash, there will be a whole lot of splash in the city as early as next year.
The citizens’ committee heading up fundraising for a new splash pad officially launched its campaign Monday afternoon.
The event was held at the site of the future splash pad, Anne Hathaway Park.
With a goal of $470,000, fundraising committee chair Mike Doupe admits there’s some butterflies about the campaign, but everyone involved is confident it will reach its target.
“We’re nervous, but I believe it is a need within the city,” said Doupe. “I believe the community will gather around us and behind us and help us out.”
He is buoyed by the support of a handful of organizations that have stepped up to the plate to make lead gifts, grateful for a significant “shot in the arm” so early in the campaign.
The Rotary Club of Festival City has pledged $25,000 and will also handle all the financial transactions associated with the campaign, including collecting donations from the public and issuing tax receipts.
It will also assist the committee in writing grant applications, with hopes of applying for an Ontario Trillium and several other private grants.
“We wouldn’t be able to do that without the charitable status the Rotary Club provides us,” he said.
Dufferin Concrete has offered to donate all the concrete to the project, a gift Doupe estimates is valued at $15,000 to $20,000.
The LINC Family Festival was one of the first supporters to come on board, offering a $1,000 donation last winter before things even got up and running.
Doupe is confident other corporate sponsors can be found, and suggested there may be businesses in the community that can’t cut a cheque, but may be able to offer in-kind services.
The fundraising committee is also seeking other service clubs to partner with on the project.
City council gave its final stamp of approval to the project in late January, approving a non-circulating splash pad system.
Initial estimates indicate the 4,000-square-foot pad could cost about $346,000, including new washrooms and servicing. Optional items such as a spray wall, shade structures and seating could cost an additional $127,000.
There is currently $25,000 in city reserves for the project.
Doupe said it’s time Stratford got a splash pad, noting there is a need for free options for families in the city.
If fundraising goes well, he hopes construction could start as early as next spring.
“We can create something for the community to enjoy as whole and create a destination for people out of town as well,” he said.
He anticipates the biggest challenge in raising the funds will be time, considering how much work there is to be done.
“Sometimes it means sacrificing some time with the family, sacrificing some work,” he said, of the dozen core members who sit on the committee. “This committee has been fantastic and very gung ho. I’m very proud to be part of their team.”
Though the campaign has just been launched, there is already one official fundraising event. Domino’s Pizza has partnered with the committee and will be donating half of the proceeds from sales on Thursday, Nov. 15 to the campaign.
Committee volunteers will be pitching in at Domino’s that evening and info brochures about the campaign will be distributed with the pizzas.
Gerry Bell has also stepped up to the plate and donated his deejay services, in hopes a fundraising dance can be organized.
“Those types of offers are coming in and we’re very grateful,” Doupe said. “Those offers will go a long way to meeting our goal.”
An application is also being made to the fourth annual Aviva Community Fund competition, where people can vote online for their favourite project.
To keep up to date with the campaign, visit its website, www.stratfordsplashpad.com or its Facebook site, “We want a free splash pad in Stratford Ontario.”
You can also follow the campaign on Twitter, @CashforSplash.