Posted on Jul 03, 2019
The Rotary Club of Belleville has hit all the right notes in unveiling a unique musical project to kick off its 100th year of community service. The Rotary Music Garden was unveiled Wednesday morning in West Riverside Park, just north of the Rick Meagher/Medigas Rotary Play Park, providing an assortment of instruments to entertain people of all ages year-round. The fully accessible Music Garden features a unique eight instrument ensemble; a set of seven tubular bells, a Harmony T-Rung outdoor xylophone, a bell lyre, both large and small babel drums, handpipes, Rainbow Sambas Outdoor Drums, a Duo Cupla and Cavatina. The project was completed over the course of a year by the Rotary Club, led by project manager Vince Lynch, in conjunction with city staff.
Rotary President Doug Peterson says it will a big attraction for people of all ages, especially children. “Kids love music. We’re sitting here (Wednesday) and there’s already kids playing. While we were doing our dedication, I heard kids in strollers crying because they couldn’t come over and play (the instruments),” Peterson said.  “I think it’s going to be a big attraction and it could introduce younger kids to music, who maybe wouldn’t get a chance,” he added.  President Doug Peterson acknowledged the support and work done by City staff, including Mark Fluhrer and Joe Reid who was described at the pivotal point of contact and his team were "instrumental" in this production.
Chair of the 100th anniversary committee Bill MacKay says the unique idea was struck when club members went to Toronto for the annual Rotary International Convention last year. “Part of the convention includes an area called ‘House of Friendship.’ In that large exposition area, there were a significant number of vendors. We came across a couple of vendors that had similar types of equipment. We started looking at it and thought that this would be great in Belleville,” he explained. MacKay added the Music Garden continues with Rotary's rich history of musical involvement and assisting those with physical challenges. One of the biggest fundraisers the Rotary Club has put on in its history is the Quinte Rotary Music Festival, which has been a staple of the community for more than 50 years. Inclusivity and accessibility are two important pieces to the garden and MacKay said the heavy-duty, specially designed equipment purchased from the United Kingdom were meant to be enjoyed by everyone, including those with limited range of movement or individuals on the autism spectrum and people who can only process one sensory system at a time.  “The duo cupla and the cavatina in particular were both selected, because they were intended to be outdoors year-round,” he said.
Both Peterson and MacKay say there's a possibility to grow the Music Garden and add more instruments if it ends up being popular enough with visitors. “The big reasons why we chose this area is the close proximity to the Rotary Play Park and it can be expanded if we’re in a position to add more equipment,” MacKay said. There’s no cost to the city for the Music Garden and there’s very little maintenance that will need to be done, according to Peterson, which means many future generations can enjoy it in the years to come.
Donations from the Parrott Foundation and the City of Belleville, along with Rotary Club contributions, helped lead the project to its completion.
Project Foreman Vince Lynch spoke about the actual labour that was put into this beautiful Music Garden, including excavation, installation of eight concrete base pads, base plate, wood chips, 91 anchors and site clean-up as well as coordinating with the supplier to select the items, order and facilitate delivery, unpacking and assembly.  Vince's wingman was Bill Lowther who helped keep things moving forward based on a fairly tight time schedule.  On June 19th an installation bee was organized with the help of Rotarians Bill MacKay, Cory MacKay, Ken Wheeler, Bill Lowther and Ross Wagner.  To make things a little more difficult, one of the instruments was defective and caused a slight delay in waiting for a replacement.  Rotarian John Smale designed the signage for the Music Garden. All in all, a great job by many and as Forrest Gump would say "that's all I have to say about that".  Go play!
What connects people better than music?  Music connects us to our talent and spirit and it connects us to each other at a deep spiritual level.  Rotarians hope the Rotary Music Garden will create these important connections for kids of all ages and abilities for years to come.