Following complaints from Ithaca citizens about a lack of play areas for children with disabilities, the Friends of Stewart Park will be constructing an all-accessible playground for children.
The new space will feature natural play areas, accessible walkways, a splash pad and new accessible bathrooms according to the Friends of Stewart Park website.
“One of the big things people wanted was a new playground … and they decided it should be one that is accessible,” said Lucas Raley ’18 playground build coordinator for Friends of Stewart Park.
“We call it an inclusive playground because it’s one for everybody,” Raley said in an interview with The Ithaca Voice. “It’s not a playground tailored just to people with disabilities, and it’s not a playground just for people without disability issues. It’s for everyone to play.”
The new playground attempts to replace limiting factors like stairs and steep ramps by adding a ramp that leads to a view of the lake, as well as a berm that “provides children a starting point for exciting play experiences for all children,” according to the website.
The park’s disability-friendly spaces will also feature new bathrooms and changing rooms that will border the playground and a restored carousel. In addition, the park will promote sustainable design and “green” construction by implementing sustainable design measures and featuring plants native to the region.
The project has received a $1 million grant from the state, according to an article in the Ithaca Voice. Friends of Stewart Park has also been asking for private donations, and has raised over $500,000 so far. The $1.5 million total has brought them close to their final goal of $1.7 million, according to Raley.
In September, the project will move forward with Phase 1, or the “community build” phase. They are aiming to complete the work using solely volunteer workers from the Ithaca region.
Construction will take place from Sept. 11 to 16. Roughly 130 people have signed up to help so far, Raley said, but they are still looking for more volunteers to complete the project.
Cornell’s Tri-Council organization will be replacing it’s previous Greeks Give Back — a biannual event where members of the Greek community spend a day performing service tasks around Ithaca — with events throughout the semester. One of the opportunities they have chosen is the Stewart Park playground building, to help get more volunteers involved in the project.