Schenectady County

Special gear is awaited for park

The city is awaiting arrival of specialized equipment to finish the Capital Region’s first playgroun

The city is awaiting arrival of specialized equipment to finish the Capital Region’s first playground that meets a national gold standard of full accessibility by children with disabilities, a Schenectady official said.

General Services Commissioner Carl Olsen said he expects to complete the $1 million project by October, as scheduled. The city is converting the traditional Central Park children’s play area into a new playground to serve all children up to age 12.

The length of the project and its disruption of the Tiny Tots area near the pavilion irritates at least one resident.

Delores Inzero, who is disabled, questioned why the city is taking so long to complete the project.

“They tore it apart before summer started and they did everything but Tiny Tots Land,” she said.

Olsen said the city is awaiting the arrival of 82 pieces of playground equipment, costing around $262,000, to complete the project, which began in June. The equipment will rest on rubber surfaces and will be custom-designed with handholds, ramps and other features for children with disabilities. It will be divided into areas for children ages 2 to 5, 5 to 12 and 2 to 12 to play but serve children of all ages.

Olsen said the city first had to make the area around the playground handicapped-accessible.

“This was part of the plan. To build a handicapped-accessible playground and not have the area around it accessible would not create an accessible park, would it?” he asked.

The city needed to make major improvements to the park as part of the project, Olsen said.

“We needed to create surface improvements, create protected pedestrian areas that did not exist, create handicapped parking spots that are clearly marked. There is lead time associated with the equipment; it has to be manufactured, delivered and installed,” he said.

The city also installed new lighting and had to upgrade the park’s electrical service, Olsen said. The work had to be done during the summer construction season, as it involved paving and concrete.

“It will be a stellar playground. There aren’t too many playgrounds like this in the state,” Olsen said.

Boundless Playgrounds, a national nonprofit group dedicated to helping communities create barrier-free playgrounds, is expected to certify the playground once it’s completed.

Certification means the playground offers complete accessibility to people, from when they get out of their vehicles to when they enter the playground and everywhere within the play area, said Monique Farias, Boundless spokeswoman.

“It is important for all children to experience play and for all children to be inclusive in an environment,” Farias said. “Our focus is not that everyone can do everything but that everyone can do something. We make playgrounds friendly for children and for their parents and grandparents.”

The Central Park playground would be Boundless’ seventh in New York and one of about 100 nationwide it has certified.

Boundless provided $10,000 toward the project. It will spot-check the playground to ensure that the city maintains it properly and will revoke certification should it become inaccessible, Farias said. The county contributed $365,000 to the project, the city $200,000 and the state $440,000.

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