On April 12, 2023

Better Places crowdfunding launches campaign to ‘Reimagine Depot Park’

$10,000 goal to receive a 2:1 matching grant through DHCD’s Better Places program

Rutland residents will soon be able to enjoy Reimagine Depot Park thanks to a recently launched crowdfunding campaign. The campaign is a initiative by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Better Places program and led by Come Alive Outside.

“Access to community gathering places is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and every community,” said DHCD Commissioner Josh Hanford. “Depot Park will create a rich community gathering place that will enhance the lives of the residents and visitors of Rutland.”

If the campaign reaches its $10,000 goal by deadline of June 3, “Reimagine Depot Park” will receive a matching grant of $20,000 from DHCD’s Better Places program.

It was announced April 6 and by April 9 had already raised $3,775. (For the current tally or to donate visit: Patronicity.com/project/reimagine_depot_park#!)

Depot Park is located at the intersection of all things downtown Rutland. The train station, downtown shops and restaurants, Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, Boys and Girls Club, mural and sculpture walks, and Walmart are all within walking distance. The park is home to the Vermont Farmers Food Market in the summer and the annual tree lighting in the winter.

Depot Park is well positioned to become a space where community members want to pass their time. Lack of seating, interactive park amenities and park identification discourage community members from recreating in this park, however, wrote the organizations on Patronicity’s crowdfunding page. 

Since May of 2022, Come Alive Outside and the City of Rutland have been gathering community feedback to determine what exactly it would take to make this a space where people in our community of different ages, backgrounds, needs, and interests to feel safe and welcome.

With community support, the group hopes to now enhance Depot Park with the most desired features: seating, art, and a music garden.

“Reimagine Depot Park is about more than putting in some places to sit and something to do in an underutilized space,” the organizations continue on Patronicity. “From the start, this project has been intentional about involving our entire community in giving voice to the challenges and opportunities in Depot Park.”

“Contributions will support installing a music garden, unique seating, and a small table in the park. These features are the first step to making Depot Park a more inclusive and welcoming space for social connection, health, and recreation,” the statement summarizes. 

Phase 1 will include a four functional art pieces: 

1) Five four-season, weather-resistant tulpi chairs that rotates 360 degrees and can hold up to 400 pounds

2) Music garden that will provide sensory benefits for multi-generational enjoyment

3) Multi-use table with a checker board top offering a welcoming place to play, sit and eat

4) Mushroom hop for kids of all ages

Phase 2 of this project (not funded by the current campaign) will install a friendly fence with signage that identifies the space as a park as well as the guidelines for park use. 

“The Recreation Department is excited and fully supports the partnership with Come Alive Outside and the Better Places Program for a vibrant new look for Depot Park. I was able to attend the Community Steering Committee in March to better understand what the community preferred, collect feedback, and overall comments in regard to what structures are going in the park. I am excited for the project to get started,” said Kim Peters, superintendent of recreation and parks.

“For the past year, we have been collecting needs, ideas, concerns, and dreams regarding Depot Park from organizations, businesses, and individuals with a multitude of different lived experiences,” said Arwen Turner, executive director of Come Alive Outside.

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