ELLSWORTH, Maine — Fundraising efforts for a public park in the center of this city reached another milestone this week.
Audience members at an otherwise subdued city council meeting cheered Monday night when Martha Dudman, a member of the Knowlton Community Park Campaign, announced a $33,000 donation from the Maine Community Foundation.
The donation brings the Knowlton Community Park Campaign to its goal of raising $500,000 by the end of the year. The rest of the money for the $1.2 million project will come from the city, foundations and in-kind contributions from businesses working on the project.
City manager Michelle Beal said the park is now just $400,000 shy of its end goal and that construction is likely to start in April or May, assuming contributions from foundations come through.
Dudman stressed that donors are still welcome to contribute to the effort.
“Just because we raised half a million doesn’t mean we don’t want more money,” she said. The audience at the city council meeting laughed. “We have a lot more benches to name.”
The new park will be located on the six-acre site of an elementary school that was torn down in 2011. When the park is complete, it will feature a fountain, gazebo, skating rink and amphitheatre.
Plans to create the park have been underway for at least two years, but fundraising for the project ramped up last spring when campaigners shifted from soliciting only high-profile business and philanthropists to going door-to-door asking Ellsworth residents to contribute to the effort.
“Your committee has done a great job and they should be applauded every day,” council member John Moore told Dudman at the city council meeting.
The Maine Community Foundation is a nonprofit that helps individuals, charities, organizations and businesses create charitable funds, which contribute to projects across the state of Maine, according to its website. The foundation allows donors to remain anonymous, which was the case with the $33,000 donation to Knowlton Park, though director of communications Carl Little did say it was a group of donors.