Donation/Grant Enhance Inclusive Playground
Several large donations, including one for naming rights by a prominent Richardson couple, are helping accelerate construction and enhance the amenities available at Richardson’s first inclusive playground, located in Cottonwood Park. Construction on the project is estimated to begin in January 2019, with completion in mid-April 2019.
The naming rights donation of $100,000 has been provided by Charles and Ann Eisemann, long-time community benefactors and prominent civic leaders. The Eisemanns also pledged another $25,000 to help pay for a restroom facility adjacent to the playground – a need that became obvious from citizens’ and potential users’ feedback during the planning process.
“Ann and I were moved by the concept of inclusive play and what it will add to Richardson, the community we love so much,” said Charles Eisemann. “We believe the idea of people with different abilities playing side-by-side will bring not only physical benefits, but also a better understanding of our differences.”
At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Richardson Parks and Recreation Director Lori Smeby also revealed a matching grant of $50,000 from The Rees-Jones Foundation of Dallas. The foundation has committed to match every dollar given by other supporters until Dec. 15, 2018, up to a maximum of $50,000.
“Our fund-raising partners, members of the Richardson East Rotary Club, exceeded our goals, and as a result we are bringing an even better project to the city than we originally conceived,” Smeby said. “We are very grateful for the support of the Eisemanns, The Rees-Jones Foundation and so many others in our community.”
Since early 2017, the City of Richardson and the Richardson East Rotary Club have been teaming up to develop plans, increase public awareness and raise additional funds needed to enhance the building of the City’s first inclusive playground. This exciting venture aims to create a play environment that increases “playability” for people of diverse physical abilities and ages. The playground will be located on the site of the existing Cottonwood Park playground.
The projects origins trace their roots to the City’s 2015 G.O. Bond program, included about $200,000 that was scheduled to replace Cottonwood Park’s existing playground. Based on community needs and similar projects elsewhere nationally, Richardson’s Parks and Recreation Department had the idea of expanding the project to build an inclusive playground. At the same time, the Richardson East Rotary Club was seeking a signature club project, which resulted in plans for a $450,000 public-private partnership that would add inclusive playground elements, supported by grants and corporate/philanthropic support from the community.
Since the project was first announced in early 2017, community feedback on conceptual plans yielded several suggested improvements that the City has adopted, which will now be added at Cottonwood Park, including:
- a fence to control exit points for children
- 100 percent coverage with the “pour in place” surface
- more shade elements
- a restroom (with changing table) next to the playground
- more handicapped parking spots next to the playground
hose enhancements increased the project budget, and the City and Richardson East Rotary Club stepped up with the needed extra funds. With all the enhancements for both the playground and Cottonwood Park, the budget has now exceeded $900,000.
Other top donors for the enhanced, inclusive playground project include the B.B. Owen Trust, which awarded $100,000, and the Richardson East Rotary Foundation, which has provided more than $62,000. The effort also relied on grassroots funding, with hundreds of adults and children in the community donating as little as 5 cents, up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
For more information about Richardson’s new inclusive playground, including information on how to make donations in support of this important initiative, visit