Meeting to discuss ER playground tonight

Friday, March 2, 2012 - 09:14
Rotary still seeking in-kind donations for planned all-inclusive project

A meeting to discuss adding more equipment to the playground in Eagle River Town Square will be held tonight from 6 to 7:30 in the Parks and Recreation Community room, 12001 Business Blvd., suite 170.

Eagle River Rotary is spearheading the project, but the meeting is open to the public, said Rotary president Tonya Gamble.

“Anyone who wants to learn more about it is welcome,” she said.

Gamble said Rotary is working with the city and FOCUS Inc. to install four new pieces of equipment this summer.

“There’s really not a lot there,” she said of the existing playground.

Rotary wants to add a merry-go-round, saucer swing, sensory panel wall and a sway-and-fun (which swings back and forth), Gamble said. The goal is to begin construction in June, she said, but funding is still being sought.

The project will cost an estimated $140,000, Gamble said. Rotary is hoping to raise $100,000 and secure $40,000 worth of in-kind services, she said.

Anyone willing to donate skilled labor would be a huge benefit, Gamble said.

At the meeting, a list of uncompleted tasks will be available for community members to fulfill, she said.

“If people can come by and just see the sorts of tasks that we need done, maybe they’ll find one that fits in perfectly with their skill set,” Gamble said.

A mockup of the playground will also be on display, she said.

Rotary’s vision is to have a playground that’s designed for children with special needs and typically developing children alike, Gamble said. Once completed, the park will be the state’s first fully inclusive playground, she said.

“All of this equipment will appeal to all children,” Gamble said. “It will bring all children together.”

Seth Kelley, a Rotarian and executive director of FOCUS — Family Outreach Center for Understanding Special Needs — got the project started when he mentioned the playground could use new equipment.

“We thought it sounded like a great project,” Gamble said.

Kelley said he anticipates families will flock to the playground every day.

“It’s a fun, exciting playground with no barriers for anybody,” he said.

A fully inclusive playground will bring Eagle River together as a community, Gamble said.

“We’re doing this for families,” she said. “This will bring all families together, and we like that.”

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