North Country Hospital first in line to support Gardner Park Restoration Project

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — The local “Splash & Play” initiative received a big boost this month as North Country Hospital stepped forward as the first major sponsor for the project.

Significant renovations at Gardner Memorial Park planned for the fall of 2020 include upgrades to restroom facilities, improvements to pedestrian safety, major playground restorations and installation of a new 40’x40’ splash pad.

To date, the Newport Recreation Committee and the municipality have successfully raised over $300,000 toward the half-million-dollar ticket price through fundraising and grants.

North Country’s contribution will give another big push to close the gap between here and the finish line.

“We do our best to support health and wellness outside the walls of the hospital which includes encouraging projects that promote family activity and opportunities for healthy exercise,” Brian Nall, President and CEO of North Country Hospital, said. “This is going to be a wonderful addition to our community and we’re excited to be part of it.”

A fundraising plan outlined in the Splash & Play Sponsorship Packet indicates that organizers hope about $200,000 will come in through corporate donations.

North Country’s contribution as a “Platinum Sponsor” represents the highest tier on the scale and is the type of support needed to reach fundraising goals.

Amy Pickering, a member of the Recreation Committee and long-time school counselor at North Country High School understands the impact this project has on families in our community.

“Playgrounds are more than just a place to play,” Pickering said. “These spaces contribute immensely to the physical, social and cognitive development of our children and that’s an idea we’re really trying to bring to light. Strong acknowledgment and support from the medical professionals at North Country Hospital really helps drive that message home.”

Some of the structures in the play area at Gardner are over thirty years old and parents have expressed concerns about safety over the past few years.

“We’re definitely overdue,” says Jessica Booth, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Newport. “But, restoring a playground is no small task, especially one as old as we have. It takes time, energy and a huge commitment from those who want to see it happen. In Newport, we’re lucky to have driving forces like the Recreation Committee and cornerstone institutions like North Country Hospital who are ready to support the work. Without those crucial pieces, none of this would be happening.”

Fundraising for the project will continue through the winter with a goal to have everything committed by early spring.

Businesses, organizations, and individuals interested in supporting the Gardner Park Playground & Splashpad are encouraged to call the Parks & Recreation office at (802) 334-6345 or visit www.NewportRecreation.org/SPLASHPLAY to see donation opportunities.

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