Rocky Hill Triathlon helps keep Exeter parks in play

Unger Park, at the corner of Park Place Court and Park Place Drive.(Reggie Ellis)Unger Park, at the corner of Park Place Court and Park Place Drive, will soon be home to a disc golf course thanks to a donation by the Rocky Hill Triathlon. Photo by Reggie Ellis.

City of Exeter receives donation Rocky Hill Triathlon to redo the flooring under park playgrounds for City and Unger Park

EXETER – The help of the Rocky Hill Triathlon came in handy for the community of Exeter, as a generous donation from the event’s organizers helped fill a shortfall to swing the city park’s playgrounds up to par.

The City of Exeter recently partnered with the Rocky Hill Triathlon to improve City Park and Unger Park. According to Public Works Director Daymon Quallss, the play structures at the parks have been upgraded thanks to the contributions of the Rocky Hill Triathlon.

Rocky Hill Triathlon is a yearly event that solely exists to financially support youth-oriented community projects in Exeter. This includes working with the Boys and Girls club, Little League, the city and high schools to do various projects such as revamping the parks, sponsoring school trips or giving scholarships to students. The 10th annual Rocky Hill Triathlon is taking place on Saturday, March 16, at 8 a.m., and is still accepting registrations at www.trisignup.com.

“Over the past few years, the Rocky Hill Triathlon Committee has made several substantial donations to the city that have funded improvement projects that would not have otherwise been possible,” Qualls said in emails to The Sun-Gazette.

The city just recently completed two grant-funded park projects, which included an upgrade of the play structure at City Park, and the installation of a new play structure at Unger Park. The total authorized grant amount was $177,952 from the California State Park’s Office of Grants and Local Services. City Park got $78,162 and Unger Park got $99,790.

The grant-funding was used to modify the play structures in the city’s parks, which needed updates to their safety features to stay in line with state regulation. More specifically, the ground beneath the playgrounds needed a surface soft enough to cushion children who fall from injury.

Previously, the grounds around the play structures were covered with costly mulch that would have to be replaced every few years once the mulch was tracked out of the playground, according to Charles Duby from the Rocky Hill Triathlon. This time, when the grounds called for maintenance, the city opted for a more long-term option: rubberized flooring.

According to Qualls, Exeter City Council approved the purchasing agreement with Miracle Playsystems, Inc. for rubberized flooring at both parks. The total project cost was $185,844.16. For City Park, the cost totalled to $75,222 while Unger Park came out to $109,818. The project was mostly covered by grant funding but the city was still left with a shortfall of $7,089.

The Rocky Hill Triathlon had previously offered to help cover any additional costs, and ultimately, their assistance came in handy as costs did end up exceeding the grant funding amount.

“I reached out to Charles Duby of the Rocky Hill Triathlon Committee to see if they were still interested in partnering with the city on the project,” Qualls said. “With no hesitation, Mr. Duby agreed to help and, within a couple of days, delivered a check in the amount of $7,089.26 to the public works office.”

Qualls continued, “I think it’s important for the community to recognize the ongoing generosity of this group, and the impact it’s having on our community.”

This isn’t the first time the city and triathlon have worked together on the parks. The playgrounds that are being maintained were originally purchased and installed by the triathlon back in 2015.

“When we first started this, I feel like the parks were the most immediate need,” Duby said. “ Every dollar that we earn now goes back to the community in some form or another. Everything that we do revolves around kids of all ages.”

According to Duby, triathlon was started 10 years ago to fund youth projects. He said he’d participated in a similar triathlon in Tulare, which kick-started the idea to bring one to the Exeter community.

“There was a group of us that had done a triathlon in Tulare. On the drive home from that race, I was talking with my wife, and I was like, ‘Why on earth don’t we put one of these on?’,” He said.

Duby explained that later he pitched the idea to his friends, who also participated in the triathlon, and they instantly agreed. Now 10 years later, all four or the original committee members who started Rocky Hill Triathlon are all still on the committee, which has since grown from its origin.

Community members who want to support the Rocky Hill Triathlon can volunteer to help clean up the trash before the March 16 race at Rocky Hill and Myer Drive.

“A week before the race, we get as much involvement from the communities as we can. I park at the canal, right there on Rocky Hill, and people start showing up,” Duby said.

Those who are unable to volunteer can also get more information about the triathlon and contact information at https://runsignup.com/ or on their Facebook page.

“We’re always looking for new sponsors,” Duby said. “They can certainly reach out to me. They can go to our website and they can ask (about sponsorships) directly via email, and it comes straight to my inbox.”

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