CAPE ELIZABETH — With help from the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, the Fort Williams Park Foundation has raised enough money to build a children’s garden next spring.
The club on Nov. 11 presented the foundation with a check for $5,000, which brought the foundation to its $400,000 goal. The Rotary Club also donated $17,500 for the garden in 2012, when fundraising for the project first started.
“The Rotary was there with us at the very beginning, and they were with us at the end,” Fort Williams Park Foundation President Bob Ayotte said.
Ayotte said the Rotary Club has played a major role in getting the garden started.
“The Rotary has been much more than a donor to the children’s garden,” he said. “They have been a true partner from the beginning of the project right up through this final stage.”
The 1.5-acre garden will be near the park’s tennis courts and will feature a “small, diverse woodland” with various birds, a meadow of wildflowers, a stream flowing into a pond already on site, willow tunnels and a picnic area, according to a description written by the foundation. The garden is planned to be a place where children can be curious and adventurous, as well as comfortable and contemplative.
Ayotte said previously that the garden won’t be a traditional playground, but instead will have natural places for children to play.
Construction is expected to start in April, Ayotte said, with a goal of finishing the project in the summer. He said Rotary’s contribution, as well as donations from foundations, organizations and individuals, has kept the project on schedule.
He said the Night at the Light event held at the park this past summer raised $25,000 for the garden.
Scott Irving, president of the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, said the club’s members felt strongly about the garden.
“Members selected this because Fort Williams is a tremendous resource to the community,” he said. “Rotary does a lot with community and youth, and the children’s garden hits on both.”
Irving said the club’s members like the idea of a children’s garden because it will allow children to learn while having fun.
“The children’s garden presented an educational value,” he said. “We thought it was a terrific project.”
Ayotte said he’s glad Rotary Club members agree because, without their support, progress on the garden wouldn’t be moving along at such a fast pace.
“The children’s garden would not have been possible without the generous support of the Rotary,” he said.
Construction will begin on the children’s garden at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth next spring.