BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR
If you live in Ormond Beach and don’t know what Project ROMP is, something’s wrong, says Mike Bowen, coordinator in charge of the project to renovate the 19-year-old Magic Forest Rainbow Park, at 440 N. Nova Road.
For the past 2.5 years, Bowen and a team of volunteers have worked to promote and raise funds to rebuild the park. But higher-than-expected price estimates for playground equipment means that instead of closing out the project Sept. 28, as planned, the fundraising deadline will need to be pushed back again, to Nov. 15.
After all this time, Bowen says, he’s starting to feel like the boy who cried wolf.
“We’ve had three different deadlines,” he said, “and we just haven’t been able to raise the money.”
Instead of $80,000, the project is now priced at $100,000 — which means that Bowen and his team will need to raise another $30,000 to meet their goal. If they raise that money by Nov. 15, construction will begin in January. The city of Ormond Beach has committed to a $40,000 contribution.
“Even before prices went up, we had not yet met where we needed to be,” said Fundraising Coordinator Marianne Davis Burley. “We are in need of about $30,000. ... So right now, everybody individually is trying to do our own thing. Basically, (we’re) cold-calling.”
But Burley also has events in the works. Scheduled as a replacement event on the same day as the project’s previous deadline, an elementary dance, with a disc jockey, food and games, will take place Friday, Sept. 28, at the Nova Community Center.
With tickets for $7, Burley hopes to keep expenses down by using resources throughout the community, like decorations from The Casements, Senior Center and Children’s Musical Theater, hot dogs from the Police Athletic League and Community Outreach, and door prizes from Hershey’s Ice Cream and Sun Dollar Boutique.
“Everything is kind of a community effort,” she said, adding that Chili’s also recently held a “Support Project ROMP” night, giving 10% of their sales to the nonprofit. La Fiesta will do the same Oct. 3, for any patron who brings in a ROMP logo.
The group is still seeking sponsors (email [email protected]).
“When it's done, this playground will be one of the nicest playgrounds in Central Florida,” Bowen said, adding that a pirate ship, tree house and $17,000 rope pyramid are planned for installation. “We just have to kick it into gear.”
Last year, November was by far the group’s most successful fundraising month, he added, bringing in 75% of the $30,000-plus ROMP has currently collected.
He’s hoping for a similar outcome this year.
“When I first got involved, I thought I was getting myself into a two- to six-month project,” he said. “And now here we are 2.5 years later, and this has become a part of my life.”
At the request of City Commissioner Rick Boehm, the Leisure Services Advisory Board has recommended that the Ormond Beach City Commission increase its maximum contribution to Project ROMP from $40,000 to $63,500.
The increase must still maintain a 50-50 funding match from ROMP and is scheduled to be on the commission’s Oct. 2 agenda.
Everybody dance now
Project ROMP’s upcoming fundraiser, a dance and carnival-type event with games and a DJ, for grades K-5, will be held Friday, Sept. 28, at the Nova Community Center, 440 N. Nova Road. Tickets are $7 and include a hot dog and drink.
Marianne Burley, fundraising head, estimates 200 children will show up for the fun.