City of Hillsboro and Community Foundation partner with national nonprofit to revamp McKinney Park playground.
The rising sun had barely begun to shine through the trees as more than 200 people gathered at McKinney Park on Thursday.
Hillsboro residents, city staff and employees at CarMax stood together with representatives of national nonprofit playground builder KaBOOM with a simple goal: Build a playground in roughly six hours.
Since 1996, Washington, D.C.-based KaBOOM! has built more than 2,700 playgrounds across the country an effort that was invigorated this year thanks to a $4 million partnership with the CarMax Foundation.
"It's absolutely amazing to see 200 volunteers from CarMax and the Hillsboro community who are here on a Thursday working so hard to ensure kids in this neighborhood are going to have access to a great place to play," said Erica Liberman, associate director of account management for KaBOOM. "Volunteerism is the heart of what we do. And we know when the community is invested the ownership over the space is that much greater."
As one of the city's older parks, the original play structures at McKinney, 375 N.W. Dennis Ave., had passed their lifespans and were in need of replacement, said Jeroen Kok, planning and development manager in the city's parks and recreation department.
With help from the Hillsboro Community Foundation, the city was able to connect with KaBOOM! and the CarMax Foundation to fund and design a new playground for the park, using input from local kids, Kok said.
In May, KaBOOM and Parks & Rec hosted a community meeting at McKinney Elementary to get feedback from the neighborhood, especially children, who drew pictures depicting the dream playgrounds.
"(KaBOOM) was really trying to deliver the playground the kids wanted," he said. "This gives them a bit more ownership in the project."
The result includes tire swings, rope climbers and all other manner of playground devices that allow for don't-touch-the-ground tag. It took eight weeks to finalize the design, Kok said.
"CarMax likes to be a supporter of the communities in which it operates," said Bill Creswell, the general manager of the Beaverton CarMax. "Our associates told us they want to support healthy living, and one of the great ways we do that is through our partnership with KaBOOM."
Through 2018, he said, the two organizations will see to the completion of about 80 different projects, including playgrounds and play spaces all across the nation, providing a safe place to play for more than 200,000 kids.
McKinney's is KaBOOM's 14th playground in Oregon.
"I think it'll mean a lot (for the neighborhood kids)," Creswell said. "I know it means a lot for the parents who grew up in this neighborhood. The earlier playgrounds that were here created lifelong memories for them, and this new playground is going to create lifelong memories for their children."
That is especially important to the Hillsboro Community Foundation, said its President Scott Eisenstein. Since 1986 the foundation has quietly seen to philanthropic projects across Hillsboro.
"When the city brought this project to us, the board unanimously voted in favor of it without discussion," said Eisenstein, whose own children used to play at McKinney Park. "It was the perfect opportunity, we thought, to really enhance the community."
Although finished on Thursday, the new play equipment is closed while cement cures and hardens. The park will open with a small ceremony Sunday, Aug. 14, between 2 and 4 p.m.
"This is where friendships are going to be made and where stuff is going to happen," said Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey. "Parks and libraries are the centerpiece to any active neighborhood or community, and this is just going to enhance that."
By Travis Loose
Reporter, Hillsboro Tribune
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