Public can view plans and comment at February 8 meeting
Mayor Don Wesely today praised students at Lincoln Southeast High School for their efforts to build a fully-integrated, accessible play area in Antelope Park for children of all abilities. He also urged the public to financially support the project, which needs another $50,000 in donations by March 1.
"The students and other members of the community have already raised $145,000 in cash and in-kind donations for the accessible playground project," Mayor Wesely said. "It's a great example of young people recognizing a need in the community and taking positive action. Because of their hard work, we'll be enjoying the largest and most accessible public playground in the region later this year."
Construction on the playground is expected to start in March, with completion by May. The $50,000 yet to be raised would be used to purchase specialized playground equipment. Southeast students have been active in designing the playground and raising funds, and they will also help with construction this spring.
"The students are building a place where all of Lincoln's children can play together," said Brent Toalson, Southeast Student Council Advisor and project coordinator. "Through the process, they are learning some valuable lessons about the importance of community service."
"Knowing that we are doing something that will bring happiness to kids for years to come has made all of the work definitely worth it," said Southeast junior Maggie Stuckey.
The students have been working with the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department, which has allocated $140,000 for improvements at the park, including $100,000 in keno funds.
"We are all anxious to get this project underway," said Parks and Recreation Director Jim Morgan. "This project shows how public and private funds can be used to make major improvements in our recreation areas." The city maintains 78 public play areas, and about two-thirds of the play areas now have accessible features. Morgan said the city plans to have all the playgrounds renovated within three years.
In 1987, the Lincoln Fellowship of Churches, now the Lincoln Interfaith Council, created the Challenge Playground in Antelope Park for children with disabilities. Some equipment at that playground has been removed for safety reasons, and other pieces are outdated and in need of repair. The other playground at Antelope Park was last upgraded in 1973 and does not meet current guidelines. The two areas will be incorporated into the new accessible play area.
The play area will have several unique features, which increase accessibility, but add to the cost. The 12,000 square feet of surface matting to allow unlimited access to the equipment will cost about $120,000. The playground will be the first in Lincoln to use ramps for wheelchair access to the elevated play structures. The playground will also feature equipment for recreational therapy.
The public will have an opportunity to view the plans for the playground and comment on the project at a meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday February 8 in Room H103 at Lincoln Southeast High School, 2930 South 37th Street. Room H103 is in a portable classroom on the south end of the school.
Contributions can be sent to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation, 2740 "A" Street, P.O. Box 204, Lincoln, NE 68502. All donations are tax deductible. Groups or individuals who donate $100 or more will receive a personalized engraved paver that will be integrated into the landscape surrounding the playground.
|Major donors (as of February 1, 2000):|
|Ameritas Charitable Foundation||$ 5,000|
|Match from estate of Marjorie L. Barstow||50,000|
|Nebraska Arts Council||5,000|
|J.C. Seacrest Trust||2,500|
|Southeast High School students||20,000|
|Time Warner Cable community grant||1,000|
|United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska||1,000|
|Woods Charitable Fund||5,000|
|Individuals and corporations under $1,000||8,500|
|Master Plan - The Clark Enersen Partners|
|Brochure - Bailey Lauerman and Associates, Jacob North Companies,|
|Playground Equipment Installation - student volunteers|