Ithaca's YMCA tries crowdfunding for new community playground

June 28, 2014

An area at the north end of the YMCA building on North Triphammer Road is already being used for outdoor play, but it could soon be a top-notch playground for the whole community. The YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County is holding a "crowdfunding" campaign to raise the $23,000 needed.

Artist's rendering of the planned YMCA playground. Image provided by YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County.Artist's rendering of the planned YMCA playground. Image provided by YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County.YMCA associate executive director Teresa Morehouse says the YMCA's members have clamored for an outdoor play area for years, and they've worked with Parkitects for two years to come up with a feasible solution for a non-profit to afford.

As it is now, "children run around and staff act as human barriers to prevent children from running into the parking lot," Morehouse says. The area currently has a few plastic toys and a sandbox. "The new area is intended to have fence, ground cover, and at least 3 large structures/toys suitable for ages 3-5 and up," she says.

Members, non-members, and everyone in the community will have access to the new playground, Morehouse tells us. "A project like this would be tangible and fun for our community, and would have a large backing of community members and YMCA members alike."

The $23,000 fundraising target covers the entire plan devised by Parkitects, a Lansing-based architectural firm that specializes in developing parks, landscape structures, and playgrounds.

The Y received an initial donation of $6,000 from Cargill, Incorporated to cover the costs of a fence and ground cover, and much of the construction work will be done by volunteers from Cargill and the YMCA membership, and from a base of volunteers that frequently helps with projects, including students and retired community members.

The space won't be supervised by staff at all times, but parents who aren't YMCA members will be able to bring their kids to play, as long as they supervise them.

The crowdfunding effort was assisted by Andrew Gossen, an area resident who works in marketing and has explored crowdfunding. He explained the technique to YMCA staff and board members.

The Y is using the Crowdtilt service; if $10,000 in donations are received beyond the initial Cargill donation, the campaign will "tilt," and allow organizers to accomplish part of the plans. "There are stages of development that are attainable," says Morehouse. "First the fence and ground cover, then a structure, and another to reach the tilt at $16,000, then a large structure to complete the $23,000 total. This is modest in comparison to many quotes, and compared to many other playgrounds in the Ithaca area."

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