Rotary project

From left, Vern Meenderinck, Jeff Roberts and Craig Telgenhoff stand where the climbing boulders and basketball courts will be built at Bender Fields. (Photo courtesy of Hailey Palmer)

Mount Baker Rotary Club hopes to start project this summer

LYNDEN — The Mount Baker Rotary Club has a new project in the works aimed at benefiting children in the community. 

Rotary Club President Jeff Roberts said the idea is to build a park within a park. The project will add new lighted basketball courts and climbing boulders to Bender Fields.

The thought of adding the boulders came to Roberts about two years ago when he was at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon. He said he first saw climbing rocks there and took a picture saying he wanted one someday for Lynden. Taking over the role of president of the club provided the perfect opportunity.

“As president of the club you get to choose a major project and I wanted it to be for women or children,” Roberts said. “I wanted to support a women’s shelter or something like that, but ultimately decided to go with the children aspect of it.”

It’s not just a major project and addition for the citizens of Lynden, but all of Whatcom County, he said. 

Roberts said he hopes that a building permit can be obtained as soon as July 20 and construction on the project can start this year. The ideal plan would be to build during the fall and finish in spring 2020. 

Mount Baker Rotary has raised more than $150,000 for the project, with $103,000 of it coming from the club’s annual auction in April. The amount raised so far will cover the cost of the climbing boulders and basketball courts. 

If enough money is raised, Roberts said it would be desirable to build pickleball courts and a sand volleyball court. An additional $100,000 would be needed for those elements. 

“For sure we’re going to have the climbing wall in the park and the basketball courts,” he said. “We’re fully funded for that, but if we want expansion in the other projects to get volleyball and pickleball we definitely need more money.” 

Roberts said one of the priorities is to get the climbing boulders and basketball court done first before adding anything else to the project.

“We’re not cutting any expenses,” Roberts said. “Initially at the auction, what we promoted was the climbing boulders and basketball courts. We can’t sacrifice the quality of those. We have to make sure these two are done well first.” 

To raise additional funds, donor bricks are being sold for $500 or $1,000 that will be a part of the new area of the park. 

“We’ve sold 50 bricks already for $1,000 or $500 each,” Roberts said. “If we could sell another 50, that’s $25,000-$50,000. If we got 50 more community-minded businesses or individuals to do $50, $500 or $1,000 and one or two more big donors, we’re there. We’re not that far off.”