Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the Lincoln Cares program will help fund 10 projects and programs across the community in 2010. Lincoln Cares is a community donation program, which allows Lincoln Electric System (LES) customers to voluntarily add one dollar to their bill payments each month for projects not included in the City budget.
The Mayor made the announcement at the Prairie Building at Pioneers Park Nature Center, the new home of Heritage School and the proposed new home for the Hudson Cabin. Endowments for the two buildings that were part of Heritage Village at State Fair Park are on the new Lincoln Cares funding list. The 2010 projects also include an endowment for animal care at Pioneers Park.
Other new projects are Sherman Field support facilities; the Great Plains Trails Center at Union Plaza; the Trago Park Shelter; the Belmont Park Natural Play Area; solar lighting for Lewis Field and Tierra Park; and park and playground improvements at Elliott School, Antelope Park and Antelope Valley Trail.
(A list of new and former Lincoln Cares projects follows this release.)
The Lincoln Parks Foundation and Time Warner Cable (TWC) will continue to provide a 50-cent match for every dollar contributed to the Lincoln Cares program. In its third year of sponsorship, TWC will provide $30,000 in matching dollars and another $30,000 for on-air promotion of Lincoln Cares. The Lincoln Parks Foundation will contribute up to $25,000 with its cash match.
Mayor Beutler also announced a new category for media sponsorship for Lincoln Cares. He welcomed KOLN/KGIN-TV, KLKN-TV; Three Eagles Communications; NRG Media - Broadcast House; and the Lincoln Journal Star. Each will provide $30,000 of in-kind advertising and promotion of Lincoln Cares. With TWC's contribution, local media will provide a total of $180,000 in promotion during 2010.
With this generous local media support, we hope more residents will be inspired to donate to the outstanding Lincoln Cares program," Mayor Beutler said. "I want to thank our new media sponsors as well as the Lincoln Parks Foundation and Time Warner Cable who will continue to provide matching dollars. Lincoln Cares has grown to become a significant community effort that gives everyone in Lincoln the opportunity to support our great parks system.
"Our 300 local employees and our customers take great pride in Lincoln's parks and programs, and we're very happy to support Lincoln Cares and bring more awareness to our community's needs," said Ann Shrewsbury, Vice President of Communications for Time Warner Cable.
From its inception in February 2003 through January 2010, Lincoln Cares has collected $493,020 from
LES customers adding a dollar to their bill payments. An average of 4,786 LES customers donate to the program every month. Another $8,791 has been contributed through direct donations to the Lincoln Parks Foundation and through partnerships with Pepsi, Lincoln Benefit Life, Olsson Associates and Culver's Restaurants. To date, the corporate contribution to Lincoln Cares totals $435,000. The total for all collections since Lincoln Cares began is $936,811.
Lincoln Cares is a shining example of the kind of successful public-private partnerships the Lincoln Parks Foundation wholeheartedly supports," said Christie Dionisopoulos, President of Lincoln Parks Foundation. "The Parks Foundation's mission is to enhance our Parks and Recreation programs beyond what the City budget can provide. This partnership helps leverage and stretch those private investments even further to make our neighborhoods and community a better place to live.
We greatly appreciate everyone who continues to put the 'cares' in the Lincoln Cares program," said Lynn Johnson, Director of the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department. "Our generous corporate and community sponsors, media sponsors and those people who add the extra dollar to their LES payment every month are making a visible and meaningful difference in our community.
To donate to Lincoln Cares, LES customers can add one dollar to their bill payments each month. Those who pay LES through automatic bank billing can add Lincoln Cares to their payments each month by calling LES at 475-4211. Donations also can be mailed directly to the Lincoln Parks Foundation, 2740 "A" Street, Box 201, Lincoln, NE 68502. More information on Lincoln Cares is available by calling 441-8264 or visiting the Parks and Recreation Web site at parks.lincoln.ne.gov
The Lincoln Cares Advisory Board approved the following projects to be funded in 2010:
Trago Park Shelter - $15,000
Recent renovations to Trago Park, including the new interactive water playground, have increased demand for the existing picnic shelter. Lincoln Cares funds will be used to construct a new open-air shelter near the playground/sprayground that will remain available to the public even when the existing shelter has been reserved for private functions. The new shelter will be built of durable materials and will fit with the appearance of existing park facilities.
Sherman Field Support Facilities - $20,000
Sherman Field is a 52-year-old historic baseball facility owned by the City. Many of its support facilities (restrooms, parking and areas for ticket collection, concessions, maintenance and storage) are in need of renovation, replacement and/or expansion to better serve users and visitors and to more efficiently operate the facilities. The improvements have been designed to recognize and celebrate the historic significance of the ballpark.
Great Plains Trail Center at Union Plaza - $10,000
The Antelope Valley Project links downtown, the Haymarket the UNL campus and the new Union Plaza park with major trails and bike routes. A new Great Plains Trail Center building in Union Plaza's festival plaza and amphitheater area will provide space for public restrooms, the display of trail and visitor information, meetings and social gathering. It is anticipated that private businesses will add space for concessions, retail, bicycle repair and rental and other uses.
Hudson Cabin and Heritage School Endowment - $3,000
The Hudson Cabin, constructed by Edward Thomas Hudson in 1863, is reported to be the oldest existing residence built within the present City of Lincoln. For more than 30 years, the historic cabin and the Heritage School were part of the Heritage Village at the Nebraska State Fair Park. Heritage School has been relocated to the Pioneers Park Nature Center, and there is a proposal to move Hudson Cabin to a location surrounded by native prairie grasses at the Nature Center. The two buildings would provide opportunities for students and visitors to learn about Euro-American settlement of Nebraska. An endowment fund will provide for ongoing care and maintenance of the historic buildings.
Pioneers Park Nature Center Endowment for Animal Care - $10,000
For 46 years, the Pioneers Park Nature Center has provided outdoor education for all ages, and nearly 300,000 people visit each year. The Nature Center has grown from 40 acres to 668 acres of woodland, wetland and prairie habitat with eight miles of trails; two interpretive buildings; outdoor animal exhibits; bird, herb and prairie gardens; and a natural play area. An endowment fund will provide ongoing care and food for the small animals exhibited in the buildings and the herds of bison, elk and deer on the grounds.
Belmont Park Natural Play Area - $10,000
With Belmont Park's location near Belmont Elementary and the Belmont Recreation Center, it has a wide variety of uses. In cooperation with the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District and the Healthy Families Play Outside Partners, a natural play area is being planned to expose children to nature while challenging them both physically and mentally. The area would combine plants and trees with creative land forms, rock structures and perhaps natural water features.
Lewis Field Parking Lot Lighting - $7,000
In conjunction with the Antelope Valley Project, a new parking facility was recently built at Lewis Field. The new lot uses rain-garden islands and porous pavement to reduce the amount of rainwater runoff and improve water quality. Area lighting is needed to improve public safety, and to fit with the "green" parking lot, Lincoln Cares funding will be used to install solar-powered lighting to lower utility costs.
Tierra Park Playground Area Lighting - $7,000
As part of recent water quality and drainage improvements, the Tierra Park playground was replaced with one that provides increased accessibility and improved safety. A solar-powered area light will be installed to further improve safety and eliminate the need for a utility feed.
Elliott School/Antelope Park/Antelope Valley Trail - $4,700
The Antelope Valley Project has changed the landscape of Antelope Park near Elliott School and has resulted in the Antelope Valley Trail running close to the school's drop-off/pick-up zone. In partnership with Lincoln Public Schools, a master plan has been developed to improve to the school's west entrance, play area and connection to the park and trail. To celebrate its 100-year history, Rotary 14 has pledge $100,000 gift towards the project. Lincoln Cares will help fund the replacement of a parking lot with one to serve the school and trail users. This also will create more land on the school grounds for play area improvements. The new lot will include features to reduce storm water runoff, improve water quality and enhance the area environs.
Parker Pals Scholarships - $9,500
Funds are used to provide scholarships to children from low-income families for swimming lessons through a partnership with the Red Cross and Lincoln Parks and Recreation. In 2009, Lincoln Cares provided 386 free pool admissions, 690 reduced pool admissions, 30 scholarships for swim lessons, 19 scholarships for swimming and diving team and swimsuits for one local service agency. Lincoln Cares also funded one scholarship for the Nature Center preschool program; 36 scholarships for girls and boys basketball programs; 18 before- and after-school program scholarships; and give scholarships for summer day camps.
Projects funded in the first seven years of the Lincoln Cares program include: