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Final phases of All-inclusive Park complete

Danielle Ryan

(10/26) The final two phases for the East End All-inclusive Playground are finally complete and children and families are welcome to check it out. Phases II and III were started October 10, and were completed in just a little over two weeks.

The All-inclusive Playground was the brainchild of the Catoctin Civitan Club, who in 2015 approached the Board of Commissioners about the idea of an all-inclusive playground that would replace some of the deteriorating equipment in East End Park. Members of the club, with the goal of helping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in mind, noticed that Thurmont parks were not all wheelchair accessible, which posed a concern for many members. Ideas and sketches were brought to the Board and from there, the playground was designed and phase I was completed in May.

The new playground was designed and installed by Playground Specialists, Inc. from Thurmont. The playground allows for children of all abilities to play together without obstacles or constraints. The first phase of the project cost over $70,000 and was completely funded through a Program Open Space grant obtained by the Town and a Civitan International Grant obtained by the local Civitan club. All of the equipment in the park has been built at transfer height, providing the ease of transferring children in a wheelchair onto the play equipment. However, the equipment is not just for children with disabilities, all children are able enjoy the playground together.

The final two phases cost over $200,000, but were completely funded by a Maryland DNR Community Parks and Playgrounds grant, as well as grant funding from Program Open Space. Both grants totaled approximately $215,000. The remainder of the grant money will go toward making the restroom facilities ADA compliant. This project is expected to be underway this winter.

According to Jeff Barber, from Playground Specialists, the final two phases have the "wow factor" and will be sure to please families and children who use the equipment. The final two phases welcomed some new pieces, such as outdoor musical equipment including drums and a xylophone, an aero glider, a domed climbing piece, slides, and a cozy cocoon. There are other unique pieces scattered throughout including a scavenger hunt, with pieces hidden around the playground, and an interactive "vehicle" that makes noise. The new equipment ties the playground together, but also ties the pavilion to the playground and up to the parking lot, as everything is ADA accessible.

This is an incredibly exciting project for Thurmont, and everyone involved. Families and children flooded the playground with excitement after phase I was complete, and will surely be amazed by the new equipment now in place.

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