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Published: Sunday, 5/18/2008

Firm steps up to plate for Close Park

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city couldn't meet their request for new playground equipment, so residents of the West Toledo neighborhood surrounding Close Park found their own generous benefactor in the business sector.

A branch of Fluor Corp., the Fortune 500 engineering and construction company, has donated and coordinated nearly $70,000 worth of improvements and new equipment for the park as part of the firm's community give-back program.

While Fluor Corp. doesn't have a Toledo office, the energy and chemical division of its Fluor Constructors International branch is engaged in an emissions reduction project at the Sunoco Inc. refinery on the Toledo-Oregon border, said Benjamin Hall, a construction engineer.

The donation "lies in our passion to make a difference in the communities we build in," Mr. Hall said.

Installation of the equipment, which includes swings, slides, monkey bars, and a climbing wall, was delayed by spring rains and paperwork holdups but is expected to occur in coming days.

Last night, the Greater Close Park Neighborhood Organization held a dedication ceremony for the new playground as part of its neighborhood block party.

The event included an open house of a Close Park neighborhood center that is situated inside the new $5 million addition to Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, across the street from Close Park along Bellevue Road.

The building's visitors were greeted by a giant wall-sized mural of Close Park on a busy autumn day that features digitalized images of neighborhood children at play.

Madonna Moody, the organization's co-chairman, said block party.

The event included an open house of a Close Park neighborhood center that is situated inside the new $5 million addition to Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, across the street from Close Park along Bellevue Road.

The building's visitors were greeted by a giant wall-sized mural of Close Park on a busy autumn day that features digitalized images of neighborhood children at play.

Madonna Moody, the organization's co-chairman, saidthe group had asked the city for years to upgrade the park's aging play equipment before Fluor stepped forward.

The equipment was more than two decades old, dating to a time when Close Park had basketball and tennis courts as well as a shelter house where youngsters once played games.

"We really needed it," said Mrs. Moody, a mother of four. "A lot of parks got new equipment, and we were just left behind."

Tom Kroma, assistant chief operating officer for the city, welcomed Fluor's donation and said it's fairly unique for a company to buy equipment for a Toledo public park.

The city, which provided surveying and site work for the new playground, has been short on the funds needed to do all the park upgrades that it would like.

"It would have come up on our to-do list at some point in time, but it's a matter of available dollars," Mr. Kroma said.

Mr. Kroma pointed out how earlier this decade the city helped raise the more than $250,000 needed to install handicapped-accessible playground equipment at Walbridge Park.

Fluor received $16,340 in matching funds for the Close Park project from playground manufacturer GameTime. It also solicited labor and service donations from more than a half-dozen area businesses and organizations. The firm is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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