Although most parks are handicapped-accessible, the Rotary
Centennial Playground is the first park in Bend designed with
special-needs users in mind. The four-year project
involved dozens of local businesses and hundreds of local
Each member of the four local Rotary clubs - Bend, Bend High
Desert, Bend-Mt. Bachelor and Greater Bend - was required to
spend a minimum of 16 hours on the project. The clubs have
a total of roughly 350 members, according to Rotarian and
project co-chairman Roger Fisher.
Fisher said the playground is not entirely complete.
Portable toilets will remain on site until the
handicapped-accessible bathrooms can be finished. Workers
will resurface the areas around certain swings for wheelchair
access, and several trees have yet to be planted.
But with all major work done, Rotarians held a ribbon-cutting to
formally open the park on Friday afternoon (July 1, 2005).
The playground features three "pods" or units of playground
equipment, for different age groups. Each structure,
encircled by a ramp, stands on a rubberized surface instead of
wood chips for better access.
Rotarian and project co-chairman Gardner Williams said the
project would have probably cost roughly $1.5 million, including
the land, if the clubs had to pay for everything. The
clubs raised roughly a third of that in cash.
The rest came in donations of labor, equipment and services,
Williams said. The Bend Metro Park and Recreation District
agreed to assume responsibility for playground maintenance.
According to Fisher, a need and desire exists for special-use
playgrounds. The concept for the Rotary Centennial
Playground was originally a suggestion of a resident with a
special-needs child, and similar playgrounds elsewhere see heavy
use, he said. The Rose Garden Children's Park, a
handicapped-accessible playground in Portland, is the most
popular park within the Portland Parks and Recreation District.
And several special-use parks built around the nation -
including the Rose Garden Children's Park - were projects of
Fisher said the Rotary Centennial Playground found tremendous
"A lot of (Rotarians) have (devoted) literally hundreds of
hours," he said. Many of those hours were spent planning
the playground, fund raising and scouring the community for
people with the expertise for things they couldn't do themselves.
"We'd say, 'who knows someone who can put in a curb?' And
(someone) would say, "I know somebody, I'll go out," Fisher
Rotarians also did plenty of work during the actual construction
phase, laying sod, raking bark dust and mulch and working on a
bridge, the bathrooms and the pergola.
Schloer, the 2005-2006 District Governor for Rotary District
5110, said that he enjoyed actual construction the most.
hands-on part of it is the best part," he said. "You can
always give money, but when you go build something and see kids
using it, it's really different."
work parties also gave Rotarians a chance to meet members from
other clubs and build a stronger sense of unity", Schloer said.
"Getting Rotarians to turn out for an afternoon to work on the
playground was never a problem".
biggest part is organizing all the volunteer help that shows
up," he said.
joked that his two grandsons -
6-year-old Will Crates and
4-year-old Matt Crates - had tested the playground equipment to
make sure it was in working order.
Fisher said that, although the park was designed with
special-needs children in mind, it won't necessarily meet the
needs of every child.
"It's a compromise," he said. "That's part of the real
difficulty - how do you meet the needs of so many different
kids? (But) we hope there's a little bit here for