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Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander raising funds for new playground and splash pad at Hodag Park

Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander

The plans for a new playground and splash pad at Hodag Park were sparked by the Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander wanting to do a project at one of the city’s parks.

After talking with the city and community members, Kiwanis member Brandon Karaba says it all came together fairly quickly over the last six months.

“It just seemed such a great fit, to be able to upgrade to something that's going to just bring so many people together and reach out to so many different communities in the Northwoods or even more than the Northwoods,” said Karaba.

Karaba broke down the plan for the Rhinelander City Council at its recent meeting.

The 13,000 square foot playground features different sections for different age groups, accessible equipment, and new benches and picnic tables. It’s all built on a type of rubber turf that can withstand Northwoods winters but still allow wheelchairs and other mobility devices to move freely on its surface.

Karaba says it was inspired by JoJo’s Jungle Park in Wausau. He says Kiwanis worked with Lee Recreation to design a playground for different ages, confidence levels, and abilities.

“This is 13,000 square feet of all inclusive. Same with the splash pad. That, of course, is 100% inclusive. There's a good mixture of play for everybody,” said Karaba.

Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander

The splash pad will be adjacent to the new playground.

Karaba says the splash pad has taken a lot of logistics with figuring out what to do with the used water and how much water to pump into the pad.

With the city still being down two wells, they’ll need to limit how much water flow there will be for the splash pad.

“It doesn't change the play features for the kids, the synchronization will just change accordingly. It'll just keep playing, so it's not like you'll just be a drip out of a faucet or anything like that,” said Karaba.

The playground and splash pad will replace the current playground near the ball fields.

Kiwanis has donated $20,000 to the project, and it’s already gotten more than $750,000 in pledged support from local businesses and people.

The total project is expected to cost $1.6 million.

“It's just an amazing area and there's so much good stuff going on [in the city] and this is just another one of those great things,” said Karaba.

If the Kiwanis can secure $1.1 million this year, the playground could be in this fall. If the total amount is raised this year, the splash pad construction would start next spring.

Kiwanis is currently accepting donations, which can be made by contacting Karaba at 715-218-8139 or brandonkaraba@hotmail.com.

Donations can also be made to the Rhinelander Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, via the Hodag Parks Improvement Fund (HPIF). Checks should be made payable to Rhinelander Community Foundation and designated to the HPIF in the check memo and can be designated specifically for the splash pad or playground at the donor’s request. The Hodag Parks Improvement Fund was established in 2016 to provide financial grants for priority projects at Hodag Park. Any size donation is welcome and is non-refundable.

At the meeting, city council members stressed that this project would not take away from the skate park that is also in the works for Hodag Park.

Earlier this month, the city council approved hiring a design firm for the skate park.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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