Construction on Tomol Play Area has started!
Please click here to buy your Tomol brick or tile.
Tomol Interpretive Play Area, a unique and educational park nearly eight years in the making, is now just a few months away from completion. As the play area takes shape our Rotary Club of Carpinteria is working to secure the final funding required to finish transforming the Tomol Interpretive Play Area dream into reality.
We expect to open the Tomol Interpretive Area to Carpinteria’s eagerly awaiting children and families this summer. Locals and visitors will be treated to a recreational experience unlike any other—a replica Chumash village designed with opportunities to run, jump and slide while developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of California’s cultural and natural history. The park, which is designed to emulate pre-European life on the California Channel Islands, will include life-sized replicas of native wildlife species to climb on, Chumash huts to explore, the “Rainbow Bridge” of Chumash lore and the park’s namesake “Tomol”—a traditional Chumash plank boat. This special play area is bound to enhance Carpinteria’s vitality and become a draw to visitors from all over the world.
In the years since its conception by Rotarians Jim Heth and Steve Crawford, Tomol has evolved and grown thanks to the input of hundreds of Carpinteria kids, the dedication of the Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning and the efforts of our partner agencies, the City of Carpinteria and California State Parks. Working with Leathers and Associates, we went into elementary school classrooms in 2004 and interviewed hundreds of local children to find out what our future park’s most important patrons would want to include. Their original ideas have been incorporated into our final design.
Our next challenge was locating a site for this park—somewhere central where children from all over the community would benefit from an opportunity to stretch their minds and their muscles. With an eye on Linden Field, we began meeting with city and State Parks officials to determine how to move forward. An underutilized section of the state-owned property was identified, but a new challenge arose. State Park land is not available for traditional playgrounds; any plans for the space must be infused with learning experiences.
Undaunted, our club worked with the State Parks to redesign the park. What started as a stumbling block became the key to our project, and Tomol Interpretive Play Area grew out of rounds of planning and reworking—all aimed at providing the best possible experience for children. We integrated the visions of local youths with the cultural and historical resources unique to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands to create a plan that would be beautiful, fun and filled with educational opportunities.
Our partnership with the city also dramatically helped us to improve the final product. Soon after construction on the Tomol Interpretive Play Area is finished, the city will install a path and boardwalk connecting Palm Avenue to the new park. This portion of the project will include a bioswale to filter surface runoff, native landscaping and interpretive signs that complement the park design. The trail will immediately link the Tomol Interpretive Play Area with the 1 million annual visitors to Carpinteria State Beach and will eventually become integrated into a path for pedestrians and cyclists stretching along the entire coast of Carpinteria.
As our plans for the park grew and new components were added, the cost rose accordingly. When the Tomol Interpretive Play Area is complete—native landscaping installed, Carpinteria boulders and eucalyptus logs from the property mixed into the paths and walls, life-like replicas set in place and Santa Cruz Island-shaped retaining wall erected—the price tag will reach over $800,000. Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Federal Government, a $50,000 memorial gift to Friends of the State Parks, many Private Foundations, generous city funding and an outpouring of local support, we are only $125,000 away from our fundraising needs.