Mayor Don Wesely, student organizers and donors today broke ground for a fully-integrated, accessible play area in Antelope Park for children of all abilities. Students from Lincoln Southeast High School and community volunteers will begin building the new playground as soon as the equipment arrives, and a dedication is planned for late May.
"This playground will be the largest and most accessible in the region," Mayor Wesely said. "This would not have been possible without the hard work of the Southeast students who have helped design the playground and raise the funding. On behalf of the entire community, I want to thank them and all those who have supported them on this important project."
The $430,000 playground is being funded through public and private sources. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department has allocated $100,000 in keno funds and another $40,000 in site improvement funds. As of April 10, $180,000 in private funds and in-kind donations have been raised. Southeast students have raised $20,000 and have pledged another $5,000. Supporters hope to raise an additional $100,000 by May 15.
The playground will include 11 elevated play decks, accessible ramps, 13 slides, 16 climbers and 28 interactive play panels. It will have a special matted surface and will be the first in Lincoln to use wheelchair accessible ramps to connect the elevated play decks. The playground will also include a fun phone system on the elevated decks, age-appropriate play areas, a landscaped seating area and sensory garden and accessible restroom facilities.
More features will be added as funds become available including several kinds of swings, a sand area, additional surface matting and spring animal riders.
The old equipment has already been moved from the site, which incorporates two previous play areas. One is the Challenge Playground, built in 1987 by the Lincoln Fellowship of Churches, now the Lincoln Interfaith Council. Equipment there had fallen into disrepair.. The other playground at Antelope Park was last upgraded in 1973 and did not meet current guidelines.
The city maintains nearly 80 public play areas and about two-thirds now have accessible features. The city plans to have all the playgrounds renovated within three years.
Contributions for the new playground can be sent to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation, 2740 "A" Street, Lincoln, NE 68502. A note designating the donation is for the Antelope Park Playground should accompany the donation. All donations are tax deductible.
Major donors (as of April 101, 2000):