The playground equipment for the new fully accessible Kiwanis Park has been selected, and work to install the structures is ongoing.
While weather has set the completion date back a bit, the groundwork is being lain currently and snapping the playground itself together should be a fairly quick process.
“It’s actually a fairly critical week,” Mary Sullivan-Thomas of Community Opportunities said. “I’ll know more after this week, really, when it will be actually installed.”
Sullivan-Thomas said the different pieces of the playground were selected by families with children who would benefit most from the accessible nature of the equipment. Children with disabilities and their parents came in to look at different designs of play equipment, and tweaked the pieces into the shape of the current project. One of the changes the families suggested was to replace the plastic roofs of the playground with larger shade structures.
“So that’s going to be really cool, that way even before there’s trees and what have you that we’ll have some shade for kiddos that have that heat sensitivity,” Sullivan-Thomas said. A swing set was also added, with two swings capable of accommodating kids without trunk strength to sit up on their own.
“It was great that the families were able to provide that level of input for us, because those are the people closest to the end user,” Sullivan-Thomas said.
Nancy Davis, whose 4-and-a-half-year old son Charlie is wheelchair bound, said that she was thrilled to be apart of that input group with the other families.
“It was really a positive thing that they wanted one, our opinions, and two, just that we’ll be able to get the opportunity to get to have such a park because right now, Troy doesn’t really have a lot of accessible parks,” Davis said.
It’s very exciting that the park will be totally wheelchair accessible, Davis said, as it provides opportunities for her whole family to enjoy the same activity.
“[Charlie’s] older brother, he’s 11, he’s excited to be able to take his brother to the park,” Davis said. The colors of the piece also changed from greenish earth tones to blues and lime-greens with more pop to them.
The surface of the playground is poured in, so wheelchair accessibility isn’t an issue, and every part of the jungle gym can be accessed by wheelchair as well.
One end of the playground will even feature a large glider swing that can accommodate wheelchairs and children with other ambulatory issues.
“I’m pretty sure it takes two wheelchairs, so I could sit on there with a mom and her kiddo, so two kiddos can be on there at a time in [their] wheelchairs, and that’s just so cool, that they’ll be able to interact with other kids that have similar disabilities,” Davis said.
While the playground aspect of the Kiwanis Park is coming to completion, other plans are still in the works for the property. Of note, a walking trail around the property is being proposed, and Sullivan-Thomas said there has also been a proposal for a splash pad as well.
The City of Troy is also working on specs for the on-site restrooms. The cost for the splash pad comes in around $20,000, and Community Opportunities is looking to raise the funds for that, a disc golf course and partial funding for the walking trail. In addition to a grant from the Department of Natural Resources, the park is being made possible by a bunch of local businesses and organizations. Peoples Bank and Trust donated $50,000, $100,000 came from Community Opportunities and $90,000 from Toyota Bodine for the walking trail. The Bank of Old Monroe is another partner for the project, as well as the Troy Kiwanis, who donated the land for the park and have paid for a lot of the preliminary work like engineering and a soil survey.
Having a local opportunity for Charlie and kids like him to play will be huge, Davis said, because “play is therapy.”
“And the more therapy you do, the more overall better he is health-wise,” Davis said.
With special needs kids, it can be difficult to travel far, as there is lots of prep that needs to go into a lengthy trip, so a local park that children can access without trouble will be open up a bunch of possibilities.
“It really is exciting, we cannot wait until it breaks ground,” Davis said.