By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: September 2013
Crystal Campbell, with three of her four children - Luke, Addison and Cate, stand beside the banner announcing the construction of the Will Rogers Park Project, a plan to restore the five-acre park.
Crystal Campbell is on a mission. In the spring of 2012, the mother of four accompanied her daughter’s class on a field trip to an Owasso park. At first, Campbell was excited. Then, she began to wonder why Claremore didn’t have a huge playground. “Why are we bussing kids away from Claremore for a big park?” she asked. “How awesome would it be to only drive a few minutes to get to a place for kids to play and friends and family to spend time together?”
From these questions, the Will Rogers Park Project was born. The five-acre park, located across the street from the Will Rogers Memorial and originally owned by the museum, is steeped in history but has fallen into disrepair. Campbell wants to change that with her vision. Her vision includes a three-phase plan: a large playground, a Master Gardener teaching garden, and a memorial dedicated to veterans, fire protection, police and those who have served our community.
“This is a huge opportunity for Claremore and Rogers County,” she says. “Research shows that parks bring economic strength to communities along with the added health benefits. Playgrounds serve our children.”
Although Campbell’s vision began as a one-woman project, the Claremore City Council, the Master Gardeners Association of Rogers County, the Rogers County Coalition, Claremore VFW Post 2976, Healthy Community Partnership and Volunteers for Youth have joined forces with her to raise the funds to bring the project to fruition.
Drive by the park and you can already see the renovation beginning with the construction of a splash pad. Originally planned for Claremore Lake Park, the $193,000 project was moved to the Will Rogers Park because of water and sewer issues. Funds for the splash pad came from seed money and grants as well as the City of Claremore.
The first phase, a larger playground, is estimated to cost $300,000. A $15,000 grant from Kaboom/Dr. Pepper Snapple and $50,000 from the City still leaves the project short. Campbell has initiated fundraisers, including $5 lapel pins featuring the image of Will Rogers. Pins are available at Floral Creations, Southwest Décor, The Cranberry Merchant, Hammett House, Perry Dogs and all BancFirst locations in Claremore.
Fundraising bricks and pavers, available for $25 and $100, will be used in the walkways. Bricks can be designated for the children’s area, with the children or family name on the brick, or for the memorial. Bricks for this area can include the name of a serviceman or woman on the brick, along with time of service or war served in.
To help defray costs of benches and picnic tables, individuals and businesses can purchase a sponsorship with prices ranging from $400 to $750. An optional customized plaque can be added to benches or tables.
The Will Rogers Park Project is a non-profit so all donations and contributions are tax-deductible.
The second phase, a Master Gardener’s teaching garden, will be located at the old city pool site next to the splash pad. With a planned water feature and beautifully fenced gardens, this phase is estimated to cost $100,000. The memorial, the third phase, will be located next to the fire station. "We envision a place to honor our veterans and those who have served our community," says Campbell. "The meditation labyrinth will be lined with pathways of bricks dedicated to heroes of our community."
Additional planned features include three large pavilions and pathways throughout the park for walking. “We plan for a pavilion to overlook the splash pad, the veteran’s area and the playground,” says Campbell. “We already have wonderful shade trees in the park so these pavilions would be great for family gatherings like reunions and birthday parties.”
To volunteer or for more information, contact Campbell at (918) 381-4482 or email her at eat0@eau0eav0eaw0. Learn more at www.facebook.com/TheWillRogersParkProject. She is also seeking volunteer grant writers. “We want this park to be a beautiful, fun attraction for our city,” she adds. “This is a citizen-driven project. The success is dependent on the people.”
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.