The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor is making a $250,000 contribution to the city of Ann Arbor for a major new “universal access” playground at Gallup Park, to celebrate the club’s centennial anniversary in 2016. A presentation about the project was made at the Jan. 28, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory committee meeting.
Colin Smith, the city’s parks & recreation manager, described a universal access playground as one that exceeds the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It aims to create environments that can be used by all people. There are about 80 playgrounds in Ann Arbor, but none are universally accessible, he said, calling it a “huge shortcoming” for the parks system. In part that’s because the design and equipment for this type of playground is more expensive. The playground will include ramps, color-contrasting structures, wider bridges and walkways, and playground equipment that makes it easier for children with wheelchairs to use, for example.
The total cost of the 5,000-square-foot playground is estimated at $500,000. Smith noted that the existing, smaller playground at Gallup needs replacement and is already included as a project in the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP).
In addition to the Rotary funding, the city would contribute $100,000 to the project. It’s hoped that some of the remaining funds would be provided by a grant from the state’s Dept. of Natural Resources grants management program. Also at its Jan. 28 meeting, PAC unanimously passed a resolution recommending that the city council direct the city administrator to apply for the grant. The deadline for the current grant cycle is April 1, 2014. Although no amount has yet been specified, Smith said it’s likely that the grant application will be for the balance of the project – $150,000.
Two Rotary representatives attended the Jan. 28 meeting to help describe Rotary’s role in the project. Bob Buckler, a Rotary director and chair of the group’s centennial committee, told commissioners that in general the Rotary’s primary focus is on supporting children, by funding scholarships, Washtenaw Success By Six and other programs. That’s why the universal access playground is so appealing as a way to celebrate Rotary’s centennial, he said. Buckler indicated that fundraising for this project has already begun.
The new playground is anticipated to be open by Labor Day of 2016.
This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]