Dilemma for Foundation:
Marietta’s Incredible Community Playground was demolished in 2010.
But a fund people used to support the playground was just removed this week from the Marietta Community Foundation’s website, one of a few accounts that seem to exist although the original purpose for the account is gone.
The Incredible Community Playground Trust was still listed online among the foundation’s designated funds until Monday, although the playground for which the fund is named was dismantled more than two years ago.
“The fund’s name was changed in January 2011 to the Washington County Fund for Parks and Recreation in our annual report to the community,” said Heather Allender, director of finance and operations for the Marietta Community Foundation.
The original Incredible Community Playground name had been mistakenly left on the website until she removed it from the foundation’s list Monday afternoon. But Allender said there have been no recent donations to that fund.
Carol Wharff, president and CEO of the Marietta Community Foundation, explained that a fund can continue to be viable, although the original reason for establishing it has disappeared. The community foundation then decides where to redirect that money.
“Once a fund is designated for a certain purpose, if that purpose ceases to exist, the foundation tries to find another similar purpose that stays within the donors’ intentions,” Wharff said. “The Incredible Community Playground Trust is a good example. Although the playground no longer exists, monies from that fund are now able to be used for other playgrounds or recreational purposes throughout Washington County as a Field of Interest Fund.”
Money that had been donated for the playground was then used for other area recreational projects.
Roger Kalter, now a Marietta city councilman, said the Incredible Community Playground Trust was established in the early 1990s to support the playground, located near Phillips Elementary School, that was built and maintained by community volunteers for many years.
The facility was removed to make room for a new school-funded playground.
“It was built in 1992 and served the community for 18 years,” Kalter said. “There was $11,200 in the fund when we disbanded the Incredible Community Playground in 2011.”
He initially suggested that funding be put into an account to support the Marietta River Trail, but later received a letter from the Marietta Community Foundation board that the money would go to support children’s recreational programs and playgrounds throughout the county.
Another account that could possibly be misleading to donors is the Ohio Showboat Drama Fund, which was established after the board of trustees of Ohio Showboat Drama Inc. dissolved in 2004. Originally formed in 1975 as a nonprofit association to support theatrical operations aboard the Showboat Becky Thatcher, the group sold the sternwheeler and disbanded in September 2004.
When the association was dissolved, the trustees unanimously agreed to give funds remaining in the board’s treasury to the Marietta Community Foundation for advancement of theater arts in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The Telesis Alumni Fund also continues to provide support for charitable activities established through the former annual Telesis leadership programs, although the Telesis program itself no longer exists.
“That fund was established as a kind of placeholder where Telesis classes could put funds raised for their different projects each year, like the Devola playground or local food pantries,” Allender said. “There are still some monies in the fund to be distributed to some of those projects.”
She said once the funding is spent, the Telesis account will be closed out.
The Foundation currently oversees 230 separate funds that are divided into eight categories; Donor Advised Funds, Designated Funds, Field of Interest Funds, Agency Funds, Special Project Funds, Scholarship Funds, Unrestricted Funds and Administrative Funds.
When Teresa Hayes and a group of other canine enthusiasts needed to raise money for development of Marietta’s new dog park at Jackson Hill, they set up a designated fund with the Marietta Community Foundation.
The park opened to the public last year, but the Marietta Dog Park Fund will likely remain under the foundation’s purview for some time to come.
“We’ll always need funding to keep the dog park maintained,” Hayes explained. “Right now we’re looking at putting in dusk to dawn lights as well as the possible addition of a smaller dog park and exercise area.”
She added that donations for the park would also be required more immediately to help purchase a riding mower for maintenance of the dog park
Wharff said one of the benefits of establishing a fund through the Marietta Community Foundation is that the account will continue to collect contributions and provide for the dog park or any other purpose, even if the group that set up the fund would disband and cease to exist.
A similar account is the Skaters United of Marietta Fund that was established to create the new skate park that was constructed at Indian Acres Park two years ago.
“Some people don’t realize there will be costs down the road like upkeep or unforseen expenses for these facilities,” Wharff said. “That’s why we recommend they keep those funds open for continued donations.”
Setting up a nonprofit fund with the Marietta Community Foundation can usually be done in one day, she said, adding that the foundation charges no fees.
Wharff said the Marietta Community Foundation has $15 million in total assets, and has distributed $12.5 million to the Marietta and Washington County community since 1992