Children with physical disabilities will soon have a playground to call their very own.
Plymouth City officials and project representatives were among two dozen people to witness the groundbreaking event for Freedom Park Tuesday afternoon.
Freedom Park Project Co-Chair Tony Gamble has a son with a disability and Tuesday’s event presented a very special moment for him. He said the park system in Plymouth is great, but there just isn’t the infrastructure available for his son to enjoy playing at a playground.
“I knew then that I wanted my son to play. That’s when it became a goal of mine in life to make sure that he had the opportunity to do so. I had an opportunity to visit a playground in Fort Wayne. It’s a beautiful playground and my son played for the first time, and I cried. It was amazing to see what he could do, and I thought Plymouth needs this. That’s when I approached Mayor Senter at the time asked him what we could do to make that happen, and here we are today,” said Gamble.
The project took a long time to plan and to prepare funds to be spent. Gamble said the first phase is about $300,000.
“We were able to get a $110,000 grant from The Playground Company and the city paid for the rest of this part of the project, basically. We got a $60,000 check that came for the playground that was here before that was destroyed by a tornado last year. That kind of brought this part to light so let’s do it!”
The playground equipment is designed so children can play on the equipment and not around the equipment.
“It’s got ramps that go from one tier to the next. It gets you from one play area to the next play area. A soft surface will be placed underneath it and around it to allow kids to get around the area and underneath to get to all of the activities. It provides children of all abilities the opportunity to play.”
The second phase will be about the same price which includes swing sets, a sound garden, a sensory garden area and more. The splash pad will be the last phase which will cost around $400,000.
Mayor Mark Senter said this playground will provide a positive development on the west side of the city.
“This park has been here forever, and it’s sort of the forgotten park on the west side,” stated Senter. “This all-inclusive playground will be a big part that and we hope that the park can come back. This will be a good part of the west side.”
Mayor Senter said that he and Gamble spoke in 2008 to try and get something started, and now it’s going to happen.
The Freedom Park is located just off of Harrison Street in the Packards Woods in Plymouth. To donate toward the project, visit Freedom Park’s website at www.freedomparkin.com or contact the Marshall County Community Foundation at (574) 935-5159.
Photo caption: The groundbreaking shovels lead the way for the excavator to move more ground to officially welcome the start of Freedom Park.