By Ron VandenBoom
The Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) Foundation gave a big boost to the campaign for a Community Fitness Park Friday by contributing $5,000 to the Northern Montana Health Care (NMHC) Foundation.
"This is a very substantial and generous contribution," said Kathleen Richardson, director of the NMHC Foundation. "We are very pleased to know that the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe has recognized the community benefit to our park project."
BNSF Division Superintendent Robert D. (Bob) Stender said he is he was happy to help out.
"We have a big presence in Havre and I just want to be able to contribute," he said, adding that he is getting more involved all the time in the community of Havre and "I'm glad that we could help."
Stender said plans for the donation began some time ago after he received a visit from Richardson explaining the park project.
Stender said that after hearing about the park, he told Richardson he liked it and thought it was a good thing.
BNSF Foundation President Richards Russack, in a letter to NMHC Foundation, said it was "a pleasure to be among your current supporters."
Richardson told the assembled crowd the NMHC Foundation is shooting for a September, 2002, date for completion of the project, but said after the presentation that they are hoping to be able to have the 6.5 acre park planted and the concrete sidewalks finished by September this year.
So far $33,500 has been donated to the project which is expected to cost about $100,000. This is in addition to funding for four picnic tables and two park benches with pledges for three additional benches, Richardson said.
The tables and benches project allows people from the community a chance to contribute to the park by donating $300 for a bench or $500 for a table. A handcrafted engraved plate containing the family or business name will be attached to the bench or table recognizing the contribution.
The park will be located directly south of Northern Montana Care Center and will consist of a youth soccer and softball field and provide exercise and outside social opportunities for the residents of the Care Center. It is also expected to contain paved walkways, a handicap accessible water fountain, and restroom facilities.
The park is also expected to encourage the elderly and disabled Care Center residents to socialize with the community's children and families.
"A gathering place for all the members of our community," Richardson said.
Anyone interested in contributing to the project, or donating a bench or table, can contact the Foundation office at 262-1354.