Video crew documenting project for nationwide distribution
Mayor Don Wesely's proposal to provide additional city funds for equipment at Antelope Park's new accessible playground brings fund-raising efforts for the project close to the goal. The City Council Monday gave preliminary approval to the Mayor's plan to provide another $50,000 in keno funds for the project.
"Money is available for two reasons: lower than anticipated bids on the ‘F' Street Community Center project and surplus keno funds," Wesely said. "The idea of having a playground where children of all abilities can play together is a priority for our community."
The total cost of the project is about $434,000. The city had previously committed $100,000 in keno funds and another $40,000 in site improvement funds. The project has also received about $210,000 in private donations and $30,000 from in-kind donations.
Construction on the playground is expected to be finished by the end of the month, and the playground will be open to the public at that time. A formal dedication ceremony is planned for September.
The new playground is the largest and most accessible in the region. It has 11 elevated play decks and is the only playground in the city to use ramps to access the elevated areas. Other features include 13 slides, 16 climbers, 28 interactive play panels, a special matted surface, a fun phone system on the elevated decks, age-appropriate play areas, a variety of swings, a sand area, a landscaped seating area and sensory garden and accessible restroom facilities.
The site 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. About two-thirds of the city's 90 public play areas now have accessible features, and the city plans to have all the playgrounds renovated within five years.
Students at Southeast High School raised money, participated in the design process and helped build the playground. Their efforts were chosen by the American Association of School Librarians to be included in a video series tentatively titled "You Know It," that will be distributed nationally. The series will show high school students conducting research and using school library resources and their critical thinking skills to solve real-life problems.
The video series is being produced by Great Plains National, a division of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Network; the Nebraska Department of Education; and the General Learning Corporation of Chicago. A video crew is in Lincoln to shoot interviews with the students and video of children trying out the new equipment. The children are attending SumFun, a camp for children with disabilities offered through the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department.
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.