Tom Brooks
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Best Time Ever To Donate

A $50,000 matching grant effectively doubles any gift made to the City of Richardson’s Inclusive Playground between now and Dec. 15, 2018.

The grant from The Rees-Jones Foundation in Dallas was made to spur giving for significant enhancements to the playground facility to be built next year at Richardson’s Cottonwood Park. The newly announced features will make the playground more user friendly, accessible, and safe for all potential users.

“Now is the best time to give to the Inclusive Playground since every dollar given will be doubled with the matching grant,” said Bruce MacPherson, chairman of the fund-raising effort. “We are ending the fund-raising effort in December, and this $50,000 matching opportunity is a great way to make a big impact.” 

Since the project was first announced in early 2017, community feedback on conceptual plans yielded several suggested improvements that the City has adopted, which will now be added at Cottonwood Park, including:

  • a fence to control exit points for children
  • 100 percent coverage with the “pour in place” surface
  • more shade elements
  • a restroom (with changing table) next to the playground
  • more handicapped parking spots next to the playground

Get Your Name On Permanent Signage

The funds raised in this final push will be applied to those enhancements. Donations are encouraged at all levels. A minimum $1,000 donation will get your name on permanent signage at the playground. To donate, go

MacPherson is chair of the Signature Project Committee of the Richardson East Rotary Club (RERC). The club is the fund-raising partner with the City of Richardson in a collaboration to build Richardson’s first inclusive playground.

Inclusive playgrounds are built to increase access to play features for all ages and abilities. The playground will feature ramping to reach play features, special “pour in place” surfacing to allow easier access for those with mobility impairments, adaptive seating, and sensory play features.

The effort was also bolstered recently with the announcement of a $100,000 naming rights gift from Charles and Ann Eisemann, long-time community benefactors and civic leaders. The Eisemanns also pledged another $25,000 to help pay for the restroom facility adjacent to the playground.

Lori Smeby, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said construction is estimated to begin in January 2019 with completion scheduled for April 2019. The fund raising effort will end Dec. 31, but the matching grant opportunity deadline is Dec. 15.

In early 2017, the City of Richardson and the Richardson East Rotary Club joined forces to develop plans, increase public awareness and raise more funds to enhance the building of the city’s first inclusive playground.

The project traces its roots to the city’s 2015 bond program, which included about $200,000 that was scheduled to replace Cottonwood Park’s existing playground. Based on community needs and similar projects elsewhere nationally, Richardson’s Parks and Recreation Department had the idea of expanding the project to build an inclusive playground. At the same time, the Richardson East Rotary Club was seeking a signature club project, which resulted in plans for a $450,000 public-private partnership that would add inclusive playground elements, supported by grants and corporate/philanthropic support from the community.

Those enhancements increased the project budget, and the City and Richardson East Rotary Club stepped up with the needed extra funds. With all the enhancements for both the playground and Cottonwood Park, the budget has now exceeded $900,000.

Other top donors for the enhanced, inclusive playground project include the B.B. Owen Trust, which awarded $100,000, and the Richardson East Rotary Foundation, which has provided more than $62,000. The effort also relied on grassroots funding, with hundreds of adults and children in the community donating as little as 5 cents, up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.


For more information about Richardson’s new inclusive playground, including information on how to make donations, visit

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