Kendall Park playground fundraiser passes halfway

Sandy Weisgerber said her daughter, Kendall, always wished she had a playpen with a swing set to play in. When Kendall drowned in 1991 at age 6 in the waters of the town’s marina, the Weisgerber family knew they had to make Kendall’s wish for more Baileys Harbor children come true.

The Kendall Marie Weisgerber Memorial Playground, built in 1992 adjacent to Baileys Harbor Town Hall in County F, has become a landmark for several generations of Baileys Harbor children and their families, said Kari Baumann, the Kendall’s older sister.

“We have so many people coming up to us, and they’re like, ‘My grandkids played in this park, and now my great-grandkids are playing in the park,'” Baumann said.

Weisgerber recalled that creating the memorial playground required $15,000 in funds donated by friends, family and community members, as well as approval from city council. When her idea was approved and a location was chosen, she rounded up local children and gave them brochures of park equipment to choose from.

“Six or seven little kids, all the kids in town sitting there, were sure they wanted the big slide put in that park,” Weisgerber said.

The future of the park

Baumann leads the Kendall Park Community Group as president and her brother, Ryan Weisgerber, is vice president. The group also includes committee members Barb Anschutz and Carin Stuth.

The group formed a year ago when planning began for major upgrades to the now 30-year-old park. It was also when fundraising officially began for the Kendall Marie Weisgerber Memorial Playground 30th Anniversary Revitalization Project.

Ryan Weisgerber said he’s wanted to start this process for years.

The Kendall Marie Weisgerber Memorial Playground as it currently stands. Photo courtesy of Kari Baumann.

“It’s been a bit more of a revelation, as we go along and see how outdated it really is,” Ryan Weisgerber said.

The objective of the project is to make the park more pleasant for toddlers and more accessible to children with disabilities. To that end, the upgraded park will feature a separate area with amenities designed for young children, ADA-compliant amenities, and flat grass instead of wood chips. It will also feature a larger core with slides and a climbing area.

The fundraising goal for the project is $500,000. The Ridges Sanctuary, Wisconsin Public Services Foundation and Door County Library Association have all made donations, as have area businesses. Premier Concrete donated the concrete that will be needed for the project, and Baileys 57 BP held a fundraiser, donating $0.08 – up to $10,000 – for every gallon of gasoline sold. A campaign whereby individuals and organizations could sponsor a brick to be placed in the new park ended on June 1.

Through these efforts, nearly $285,000 was raised, Baumann said.

“We are able to buy about three-quarters of the equipment that we need and would like to see at the park,” she said. “But we would like to get another fundraising campaign to buy the rest of the equipment.”

The park will be built in phases, with the first phase creating the playground core and placing ADA-compliant amenities. Workers will start the first sod in September.

Now that they have children of their own, Ryan Weisgerber and Kari Baumann understand the importance of having a free and accessible public space where their children can play.

“I love going there and hearing the kids laugh and seeing Kendall’s spirit living within those kids,” Baumann said. “I think we’re just going to be able to accommodate that more now.”

Kendall Park Playground Fundraiser

To donate to Kendall Park Playground, call the community association at 920.839.2366. His mailing address is PO Box 31, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202. The Baileys Harbor Community Association will match up to $7,500 in donations coming in now.

Harold B. McConnell