The Rotary Pathway Playground at Tanana Lakes Recreation Area is an ongoing, multi-year project of our club, and is the biggest project we have ever tackled to date.
The Tanana Lakes Recreation Area is owned by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Land that was once used to dump derelict car bodies and other trash, as well as a magnet for various kinds of illicit activity, has been transformed into a family friendly recreational destination, including a swim beach, lake, boat launch and picnic amenities. The location is adjacent to what was once considered a depressed area of the community. Development is ongoing and the community is embracing the site and its many opportunities for outdoor fun and recreation. Free and accessible outdoor recreation is essential for the health and well-being of all children, but is especially important for families with limited incomes and fewer options than wealthier families who may own cabins and boats, are able to take vacations and pursue other costly forms of recreation.
Our club recognized early on the need for a children's playground at Tanana Lakes, but the Fairbanks North Star Borough did not have funds to build one. Starting in 2016, our club took on the project by clearing the land and prepping the site. Fundraising has continued since then and has resulted in design, site preparation and installation of several pieces of playground equipment. The project needs additional elements and funding to be complete. An arch swing, sky runner zipline and gateway climber have been purchased and are ready to be installed in 2022. Two additional pods of equipment will be added as funds allow to provide play opportunities for younger children. Lastly, a final phase includes two pavilions, a treehouse lookout and four benches for parents to sit and watch their children play.
Our club has already raised and paid for $137,895 in project costs, and received donated services for playground design, site preparation and installation estimated at $68,036, for a total of $205,931 thus far. Costs to complete the playground, including equipment purchase, installation and site preparation, are estimated at $142,700. We presently have approximately $50,000 in hand, leaving a gap of $92,700. Our goal is to continue working to complete this project in phases, as funds allow.
Our club received a district grant of $16,500 last year for this project. We have additional fundraising goals for the 2022-23 fiscal year and intend to complete as much as possible with funding in hand. The project is expected to continue in the 2023-24, but hopefully won't extend beyond that time frame.
Another District 5010 grant would allow us to keep moving forward with this project, which provides healthy outdoor exercise and play for Fairbanks families. Our largest fundraiser of the year, the Chena River Run, is set for May 7th, with numerous club members volunteering their time and talent toward the race. All proceeds will go to the playground that, if all elements currently envisioned are built, totals $348,631 in today's dollars. Eventually, the Fairbanks North Star Borough will take over maintenance of the playground as part of the overall Tanana Lakes Recreation Area. Public playgrounds are challenging projects, as they must meet certain safety standards and be installed by a specially certified playground contractor.
Rotary members already are involved in helping with annual cleanup and maintenance of the playground site. Each year, we hold at least one outdoor meeting at Tanana Lakes to keep the project front-and-center. There will be additional opportunities for members to help as the project moves forward.