The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department is building an inclusive playground expected to soon open at Roland Bland Park.
Located next to the Bowling Green Parks and Rec building, the playground addition will include equipment that is more accessible and inclusive for people with special needs and disabilities. The terrain provides an opportunity to include equipment like hill slides.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Brent Belcher said the playground is for all kids, those with and without handicaps.
“Every child who visits this playground should be and will be excited,” Belcher said. “It’s going to service everyone.”
There is no set opening date. Belcher said the construction crew has to work with the weather.
“They need some good weather days to wrap up the entire project,” Belcher said.
The playground will include a chopped tire rubber surface with bounce, Blecher said. The surface is a coated tire rubber mulch called “Pour-in-Place.”
Some of the funding for this surface comes from a tire rubber grant from the state.
“We’re excited about partnering with the state on that grant,” Belcher said.
Mulch meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but it’s not an easy surface to cross, Belcher said.
The new inclusive playground is not replacing the current playground at Roland Bland Park, but is coming as an additional component.
“We want all kids to visit and have a great time together and have no limitations in how they play,” Belcher said.
The new playground will be right next to the Parks and Recreation Department building which hosts programs for people with handicaps. The current playground already gets regular use from these groups.
“We feel like we’re maximizing the play potential,” Belcher said.
Also, this new playground will help reintroduce Roland Bland Park to the Bowling Green community, Belcher said.
The city budgeted $250,000 for the inclusive playground in Fiscal Year 2019. This funding combined with the grant brings the total funding to around $350,000.
“This is one of those public/private partnerships, and even a state partnership,” Belcher said.
Additionally, PNC Bank is providing money to create a park for children ages 5 and younger. Belcher said it will include playground features like a mini flower shop or post office.
“They want to make that the third component,” Belcher said.
The United Way of Southern Kentucky was the “instrumental” liaison between PNC Bank and the city of Bowling Green during this third playground component project.
PNC Bank “wanted to service the community and the United Way of Southern Kentucky was the best way,” Belcher said.
Belcher said the department works to serve the special needs population and has year-round programs for those with special needs or disabilities.