An anonymous Carroll County resident is looking to donate up to $200,000 for the purchase of unique playground equipment aimed at making Freedom Park in Sykesville a destination for families throughout the region.
County park director Jeff Degitz said the department was contacted over the summer by a local resident who expressed interest in making an anonymous donation to the Park Legacy Fund to upgrade Freedom Park. Specifically, the donor is looking to match up to $200,000 in community donations to accomplish the upgrade.
“They were very specific about the park because they use it regularly and walk on the trails,” Degitz said. “Their motivation for doing this was simply the ‘the community has been very good to us over the years and we want to give back.’”
If achieved, this gift would be the single largest donation to the county’s Park Legacy Fund.
Degitz told commissioners at their meeting last week the Park Legacy fund has existed for several years as a way for the department to accept donations.
“Typically, the donations we get are for park benches or trees … This year alone we’re over $48,000 that has been donated to this fund,” he said. “The largest single donation we’ve ever received was $30,000 for a gazebo at Piney Run Park and the largest campaign was $70,000″ for playground equipment at Krimgold Park.
Pending the match, the donation would be made in two installments with the first in Nov. of 2022 and the second in Jan. 2023. The play equipment would be ordered after the second payment with a plan to be installed by the summer of 2023.
“The goal was to come up with some unique play equipment that we don’t have any other place in the county and really turn this into a destination play area where people will come not only from within the county, but also outside the county,” Degitz said, adding the department is “really excited to be able to do this.”
The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation, an organization which aims to provide financial, physical and emotional support to individuals, families and communities in need, has confirmed it wants to participate in the project and help the community come up with the match.
Degitz said typical playgrounds run between $150,000 to $170,000. The series of challenge stations the department is looking to purchase would require artificial turf to be installed underneath.
The final dollar amount raised will ultimately determine how many and which stations will be purchased, Degitz said.
“The cost adds up very quickly,” he said.
“I really look forward to this being an incredible success here in Carroll County,” Commissioner President Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said.
Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, asked if the play equipment would be gaged toward young children or adults. Degitz said he expects elementary and middle school aged kids to use the playground.
“Considering the negative impact COVID-19 has had on people’s physical health, this is going to be a tremendous addition to our community,” Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, said.
The department will be promoting this fundraising campaign through the media, social media and on its website, in addition to soliciting community groups for financial support and sharing progress toward the $200,000 goal both online and on a fundraising thermometer at the park.
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Those interested in donating to the Park Legacy Fund can do so by visiting: https://www.carrollcountymd.gov/government/directory/recreation-parks/general-information/park-legacy-fund/.