Kiwanis Park in St. Petersburg, FL, was established over 35 years ago by what was then Division 20. The members told the City of St. Petersburg they wanted to build a park, and made a financial commitment of $125,000.00 over five years. The Division members also supplied all the original labor, materials, and equipment. Kiwanians planned the park to be used primarily by children and included a “totlot” playground, multi-purpose courts (basketball/volleyball), picnic shelters, etc. Following Kiwanis members' five years of investment and labor, the city renamed the property "Kiwanis Park." The project was a major success. The then City Manager called it “a novel idea...original thinking”. The city's Leisure Services Director said the planned park was “a great contribution to the community.” Since then, generations of the city's children and their families have enjoyed the park, which they clearly associate with the efforts of Kiwanis (see photo above).
The City of St. Petersburg recently conducted a neighborhood survey regarding Kiwanis Park and the neighbors asked if Kiwanis wanted to be involved. City staff members came to our September 11, 2015 Division Council Meeting to ask if our Division was interested in working with the city on the upgrades and improvements that were planned for the park, and received a overwhelming positive response from our Division's members. At the next Division Council Meeting on October 29, 2015, the Kiwanis Park upgrade project was approved as a Division 13 project.
We have met with the city planners on several occasions and reviewed the current plans for upgrading the park. The overall plans include improvements to the sidewalks, parking, shelters, fitness zones, and playground. However, the improvements requested by the neighborhood exceed the budget in place by the city of St. Petersburg. Division 13 has elected to assist in a specific portion of the project that involves the safety surfacing and fence enclosure of the playground area. This way the project aligns with the original goal in creating the park 35 years ago, focusing on the safety and protection of young children. These two items have an estimated cost of $58,000.00.
As a group, Division 13 has six clubs that have committed a total of $10,000.00 to the City of St. Petersburg for the safety surfacing and fencing portion of the playground area in Kiwanis Park (see photo on right). In addition to committing funds, our Kiwanis members will be hands on during site preparation, installation of the Playground's Safety Surfacing, Playground Equipment and the fencing around the Playground area. We will also support and help the City of St. Petersburg's efforts on additional improvements to Kiwanis Park.
In summary, we believe that this project ideally fits the Florida Kiwanis Foundation’s criteria for support:
- It provides a way for the six area Kiwanis clubs to pool their efforts and do something positive as a unit.
- The project has been coordinated as part of a strong existing partnership with the City of St. Petersburg. The city is committed to on-going maintenance of all additions to the park once the project is completed.
- The playground upgrades are based on the expressed needs of the surrounding community.
- The upgrades will make a park the local residents already associate with Kiwanis, even more safe and beautiful for their children and their families by adding safety surfacing, and fencing around the playground.
- It shows the active involvement of Kiwanis Division 13 members during workdays in coordination with the city; cleaning the park, planting flowers in our “K”; meeting with the neighborhood (picnics, socials etc.).
- It will provide great publicity value as Kiwanis Division 13 members join with St. Petersburg City staff, in a planned “Thank You” celebration with neighborhood families and children once the project is completed.
5b. Explain why requested funds are needed if there are other funding sources.
The City of St. Petersburg's initial budget for the Kiwanis Park improvements was $100,000.00. After the city conducted a needs assessment with the local neighborhood, the community's list of upgrades and improvements exceeded the city's budget by over $50,000.00. Although the city strongly agreed with what was requested by the neighborhood, they have limited ability to increase their budget to that level. With $10,000.00 already raised by our Division 13 clubs, combined with the Florida Kiwanis Foundation's $10,000.00 matching funds (should our grant be approved), Division 13 will make a substantial investment to funding the safety surfacing and fencing portion of the playground upgrade. The City will put $38,000.00 of their budget into these two items, to ensure this part of the planned park upgrades are funded and completed.
6. Can the project proceed without this grant funding?
Our funding is vital to the success of the playground area improvements, specifically the safety surfacing and fencing around the playground. We believe that this will improve the overall use of the playground for the young children in the area. We are not certain what will happen if grant funding is not forthcoming. It is possible that the city will find additional funding elsewhere, however, it is equally possible that the city will simply decide to cut back on the safety surfacing and fencing portion of the park's renovations. Given our past contribution to the Park and our name recognition with it, we feel we cannot allow that to happen. Kiwanis Division 13 wants to maintain an active association with the park and both the funds provided for the playground upgrades, as well as the hands on service project, will benefit the community, and maintain our Kiwanis name and association.