Kickstarter on for Mount Merrill play area

May. 19, 2014 @ 04:13 PM

Durham Central Park has passed the halfway point in its goal to raise an additional $25,000 online through Kickstarter toward building Mount Merrill, a proposed children’s climbing and play area.

The fundraiser ends at midnight May 31, and earlier this week the campaign had 138 backers for a total of $12,718. Organizers have $80,000 on hand, and an additional $60,000 promised, according to the organization’s website. Businesses, civic clubs and garden clubs have helped in the fundraising, said Lee Ann Tilley, who chairs Durham Central Park’s board of directors.

“We’ve been a small organization, and we decided this is our year to do some fundraising in earnest,” Tilley said. Kickstarter allows donations from a minimum $1 and up. As with many other Kickstarter campaigns, the one for Mount Merrill has prizes and perks for different levels of donations. “We really want Kickstarter to bring in young families who may not have the most money, but they’ll appreciate the playground more than anyone,” she said.

Mount Merrill will fill in a gap in the park’s amenities. More visitors are coming to the park with children, and while there are some climbing sculptures near the bridge on the park’s east side, there’s not much more for children and families to do at the park, Tilley said. Mount Merrill would be “a magnet for kids,” she said.

The plans were unveiled in October. Mount Merrill will have two slides, a boulder climb, a ramp, amphitheater seating, a climbing net, benches, sculptural art and other features. It will be on the east side of the park on Foster Street, just down the hill from the sitting area called The Leaf. Board members for the park hope to begin construction this summer for a spring 2015 opening, Tilley said.

Mount Merrill is named in honor of George Merrill Davis III, a supporter of Durham Central Park who died from injuries from an October 2012 car accident. This project honors his memory. Davis was the manager of Stone Bros. & Byrd lawn and garden supply store on Washington Street. “Every time Durham Central Park needed any kind of donation, he was helpful,” Tilley said of Davis.

Mount Merrill is the latest of several projects that have made Durham Central Park a popular gathering area – the Durham Farmers’ Market Pavilion, The Leaf, the skate park, and several gardens. “We’ve got bigger plans for enhancing the skate park, too, so that will be coming next,” Tilley said.