Living Life With Autism offers to buy equipment, surface for Centennial Park
A local organization has launched a fundraising campaign to install an all-children’s playground in Grafton’s Centennial Park.
Living Life With Autism Inc., a Cedarburg-based nonprofit group that raises money and awareness to help autistic children and their families, recently offered to pay for equipment and a safety surface for a 13,544-square-foot playground in the park, 1370 17th Ave.
It’s a project the village’s Parks and Recreation Board was expected to endorse this week.
The All My Friends facility would have a variety of play features designed for use by children facing mental and physical challenges as well as their able-bodied peers.
Possibility Playground, an all-children’s facility, was installed in Port Washington’s Upper Lake Park in 2008, and similar community projects have been undertaken across the country.
“There is a national trend, but Grafton does not have one,” said Dianne Dyer, president of the Cedarburg group. “We felt this would be something very worthwhile for the area.”
Dyer said her organization initially approached the City of Cedarburg with a fundraising offer but was told by local officials that the city has already made plans for a new all-children’s playground in its Centennial Park. She then turned her attention to a neighboring community .
“I sent an e-mail to Grafton offering a donation and didn’t have to wait long to hear back,” Dyer said.
Dyer estimated the cost of the playground equipment and a rubber surface at $250,000 to $300,000. Another $60,000 would be required for installation.
Grafton Parks and Recreation Director John Safstrom told Dyer the village was interested in the group’s offer and ideas.
After meeting with group members, Safstrom recommended in a report to the Parks and Recreation Board that the village accept the donation.
“During initial discussions with Dianne, I expressed my excitement regarding the possibility of Grafton for this project,” Safstrom stated in the report.
Safstrom said his department could do the installation as the village’s contribution to the project.
“With the size of the area needed to install the proposed structure, the existing equipment would need to be removed and relocated,” he said.
The current equipment could then be used in several future parks, such as Shady Hollow, resulting in a cost savings to the village, he added.
Plans call for the All My Friends Playground to have a variety of ADA-compliant apparatus, including swings, slides, climbing stations, teeter-totters, wobble spheres, a tree house, snake pole and other attractions. The design included a large sculpted butterfly as a centerpiece in the facility.
A poured rubber surface would provide a safer alternative to wood chips or other materials traditionally used in park playgrounds and give wheelchair users more mobility.
Founded in 2011, Living Life With Autism has raised money to fund camp experiences for autistic children.
Dyer said the group plans to hold an array of fundraising activities for the Grafton project in the hope of having enough money to begin construction by as early as 2017. Charity events such as a poker run, corporate and individual donations and grants will be among the funding sources, she said.
The Parks and Recreation Board was scheduled to review the project and make a recommendation on the donation at its 6 p.m. meeting Wednesday, Dec. 23. The Village Board will have final approval of the project.