MEDFORD — Local donations and fundraising efforts could mean preschool children have an outdoor playground at the Santo Community Center early next year.

MEDFORD — Local donations and fundraising efforts could mean preschool children have an outdoor playground at the Santo Community Center early next year.

The Medford Kiwanis Club has offered the largest donation of $5,000 to the playground, estimated to cost about $12,000.

The money raised by the Kiwanis Club came from proceeds of a concert June 30 at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

The Walmart Foundation has contributed $1,000 and Discovery Preschool has raised about $200 from garage sales.

Rich Rosenthal, Medford recreation superintendent, said the playground will benefit the preschool program at the Santo center as well as many of the up to 60,000 visitors each year.

The playground idea arose after the preschool program began in March 2009.

"This idea was definitely a community-led project," Rosenthal said.

He said there are no play areas outdoors for children. The play structure is designed for children ages 2 to 5.

He expects the remaining funds required for the project could be raised by February 2011.

No taxpayer dollars would be used for the project, he said.

The playground will occupy a 40-foot by 30-foot area adjacent to the north end of the property at 701 N. Columbus Ave.

A play structure similar to one in the U.S. Cellular Community Park, but smaller, will be erected in the space.

The play structure, which cost about $10,000, will feature a slide, climbing areas and lookouts.

Fencing already has been installed on three sides. The remaining length of fencing will cost about $600.

Rosenthal said he is still working on what it would cost to install a rubberized surface in the play area.

The rubber material would not only be softer but would require less maintenance, Rosenthal said.

He said the project could cost as much as $15,000, but he said he will be working to keep the price to just $12,000.

The city has already received offers from businesses such as Home Depot to donate time for the installation.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.