If you Google ‘Rotary Park’, you will quickly realize that Rotary has populated the world with parks! The truth is that Rotarians everywhere have invested in their communities to benefit the young, the old, and everybody in between. Parks are certainly cornerstone projects that have grown Rotary’s reputation as a service club.
In the mid to late 1970s, federally-owned land to the north of Lemoine Point and to the south of Collin’s Bay was identified by members of the Kingston-Frontenac Rotary Club as available. The club began the process of bringing this tract of land within the fold of what was then Kingston Township. Rotarians, with the support of the township, proceeded to develop this prime waterfront location to serve families and nature lovers alike.
Development included the procurement of the land as well as all the planning, park layout, architectural design, and construction oversight. Labour was largely provided by Rotarians and friends through sweat equity. Heavy equipment, where required, was volunteered in most cases. When I joined the club in 1979, I immediately found myself in the midst of work parties engaged in brushing, grading, and sodding: the labour end of the project.
The profile of this project attracted fifteen devoted new members. Fundraising carried on in the background to meet one hundred percent of the expenditures above and beyond goods and services contributed by many local businesses. Bingo entered our club’s lexicon and continues until this very day to aid in funding current projects.
For its grand opening on June 18, 1981, the big-name lottery of that day, Wintario, hosted its draw from Rotary Park, complete with entertainment and fireworks. That summer and next, the club organized bathtub races to build on the park’s family image. Politicians from all different levels of government, many businesses and local contestants competed to see who could keep their tubs afloat and, of course, to see who could come in first. The race days included clowns, face painting, and other races for children, as well as food, refreshments, and entertainment for all.
Subsequently, the playground equipment has been refreshed and even replaced to meet more current needs and safety standards. Much of that was coordinated in a combined effort by all of Kingston’s Rotary clubs as a centenary project to celebrate Rotary International’s 100th anniversary in 2005. The township and then the city have been instrumental at all times in support of our efforts.
There are two Kingston Rotary Centennial projects that will be enjoyed by all in Rotary Park. A 156 square foot Rotary Centennial Butterfly Garden has been constructed to attract Monarch Butterflies. Planting will take place this spring to encourage butterfly population growth and preservation of native plant species. Rotary Park will also be home to 21 trees that will be planted in a circle by local Rotarians this year.
If you haven’t visited Rotary Park off Coverdale Drive, you’re missing out. It’s a great space for Kingstonians of all ages to play, have a family BBQ, and enjoy a peaceful walk alongside nature. Please enjoy.