The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 8, 2014

Playgrounds planning

Rotarians plan spot for special-needs children

HERMITAGE — Playgrounds are a place for children to run around and enjoy their youth. Sharon Rotary Club is spearheading an effort to build an all-inclusive playground so no child misses out on that.

“The type of playground that we’re talking about, there’s nothing on that scale in this area,” Shane Nugent, a member of the club leading the planning, said.

The 7,000- to 10,000-square-foot playground will be located in Buhl Farm park and have all the staples like slides and swings.

“From a distance, it just looks like a normal playground playset, but as you get closer, you can see,” Nugent said.

Some of the swings will be designed for children in wheelchairs. All elements of the playground will be accessible by ramps and there will be no stairs.

Children who rely on upper-body strength can lay on a roller device and pull themselves around. Balancing platforms will help with walking. Assists also will be in place for blind and deaf children.

The total project is expected to cost about $600,000, Nugent said with the playground section costing around $250,000. Of that, the Rotary Club has raised $110,000 over the past two years.

With the help of Buhl Park Grant Writer Debbie Fait, it’s hoped a grant will be coming through soon to help close the gap. If so, ground probably will be broken in the spring.

“I think that’d be fantastic,” Nugent said.

Fait said the grant, through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), will be awarded in November. She’s hoping it brings in $250,000 for the park.

If the grant falls through, work most likely will begin in 2016.

The Rotary Club has fundraised throughout Sharon and Nugent said most people he approaches are willing to help.

“That’s one of the good things about the area we live in, everybody seems to get on board,” Nugent said.

The biggest fundraising effort is the annual Septembeerfest, a tasting scheduled this year for Sept. 5 at the Mercer County Shrine Club, Hermitage.

While the overall plan includes renovations to the park bathrooms near the playground to make them all-accessible, and expanding the parking lot, the available funds and DCED grant will cover only the playground, Fait explained.

“We had to scale the project back,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean the other renovations won’t get done. Fait said they’ll continue looking for other grants to finish off the project.

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