Highland city officials have launched a campaign to raise funds for a playground that will help everyone join in on playtime.
"I hope that the community rallies around this worthwhile project, so it can become a reality. It will benefit handicap children throughout our area," said Mayor Joe Michaelis.
Michaelis helped spark interest in the project after a citizen approached him to ask why there was not such a playground in Highland. A committee was formed to solicit ideas from families that have children with special needs.
With the family feedback, a design was created by All-Inclusive Little Tikes Commercial and presented to the Highland City Council in November. After the presentation, the council gave its blessing to develop an all-inclusive playground at Dennis Rinderer Park, which is located off of Veterans Honor Parkway.
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During that meeting, Michaelis pledged the first $1,000 to help ignite the funding efforts. But there is still a long way to go
The playground's construction is estimated to cost about $250,000.
The hefty price tag is due to the unique design of the playground equipment, its surfacing and safety fencing, according to Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Rosen. The playground will have traditional features, as well as equipment designed by specifically to accommodate children with special needs. Rosen said the playground exceeds the standard for meeting Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
"The mere fact that the entire play system will be wheelchair accessible is the most obvious attraction," Rosen said.
The play area features cost about $150,000, and surfacing and fencing would be about $50,000 each, according to Rosen.
An account was recently set up at the Highland Area Community Foundation to collect tax-deductible donations toward the project. A catalog developed by Unlimited Play, which list the playground features and the associated costs, are available at the Korte Recreation Center. The catalogs include a donation form and explain the different pledging levels that are available.
Donors who pledge $200 will have their name placed on a donor wall. Citizens who donate full pieces of equipment will have that feature named after them.
There are a variety of special events being planned to raise money.
The first fundraiser will be Saturday, May 19 at Glik Park called, "Run Your Own Race." This unique race is a 1.75-mile loop that you can run one time, or ten times, and personally determine your distance, so runners can customize their race for personal goals. The event is schedule from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., which also allows participants to determine start and finish time that are convenient. Registration is being done at the Korte Recreation Center.
Another event will be the reunion concert of the Highland-area band, Effic. The concert will be at the Madison County Fair Exposition Hall in Lindendale Park on Sept. 2.
An event called the Rusty Chain Bike Ramble is also being planned for the last weekend in June, according to Rosen. He said the race will have three different routes, 3 , 8 and 11 miles. The event was designed to cater to bikers of all levels.
Anyone interested learning more about the project or any of the special events should contact the Highland Parks and Recreation Department at 618-651-1386.