BY MELANIE YOUNG
A project near and dear to Woodhaven Mayor Patricia Odette’s heart was approved at the Aug. 3 Woodhaven City Council meeting. A few years ago, Odette recalled how she was in the city’s playground at Civic Center Park and saw a young girl with different abilities just watching the other kids playing because she couldn’t use the equipment.
“It broke my heart,” she said. “I never wanted to see that again.”
The process of building a playground that is appropriate for kids of all ages and abilities was set in motion. The playground will be located right next to the existing playground at Civic Center Park with the current fencing extending to include the new area.
The project will occur in two phases. The cost of Phase 1 was approximately $150,000, with most of the funds coming from the city’s Community Development Block Grant fund. Odette is currently working with grant writers seeking grants for the second phase.
The playground will be built by Great Lakes Recreation Co.
“The city already has a nice playground,” company owner Aaron Sligh. “We just want kids of all abilities to play together.”
One item the playground will incorporate will be a Revolutionary Inclusive Spinner. Users in wheelchairs will be able to transfer from their wheelchairs onto a seat. With four seats and two platforms, there is room for several children. The ride can be pushed by a child running on the outside or from the inside on a large wheel in the center of the apparatus.
Another item that will be included in the playground will be a Team Totter. There will be three transfer points for wheelchair users and room for those not in chairs. It will operate similar to a traditional teeter totter.
Park goers will also find a Rock and Ship Glider. It looks like a ship and rocks back and forth. It will include a huge wheelchair platform with enough room for four wheelchairs and caretakers or other children.
There will also be a fort with interactive action and reaction panels with sound, as well as a large shade structure. As part of the shady area, there will be a sandbox that will be elevated 3 to 4 feet high so those with wheelchairs can pull right up to play.
There will also be a ground-level sandbox. The entire play area will be covered in poured-in-place rubber that will be seamless.
According to Sligh, it will allow those in wheelchairs to move about with ease and will be virtually maintenance free.
Odette stressed that the playground will be open to all Downriver residents, and will be for kids of all ages, sizes and abilities. Odette expects Phase 1 to open in October and plans to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at that time. .