Playground project gets a muddy start

Centennial Park work on All My Friends venue starts after weather-related delays

GRAFTON PARKS AND RECREATION Department crews recently removed playground equipment in Centennial Park (top photo) to clear the way for All My Friends Playground, a recreational area for children of all abilities. A rendering below shows the completed play area with adaptive equipment. Top photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Construction is finally underway in Grafton’s Centennial Park for an all-inclusive playground that has been in the works for three years. 

Grafton Parks and Recreation Department crews began removing the equipment of an existing playground in the park on Sept. 9 to clear the way for All My Friends Playground.

“Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been very kind to us with all the rain. We need her to get on our side,” playground organizer Dianne Dyer said.

The goal was to install all the equipment by the end of the month through a community build, Dyer said, but the build is now expected to occur in November.

“Getting all the equipment in is our No. 1 goal,” she said. 

Dyer said a grand opening is planned  for next spring after the playground surface and safety fencing is installed at the 13,544-square-foot playground, which will have adaptive equipment and technology for children with special needs. 

“This whole playground was designed for children with special needs,” Dyer said. “We met with occupational therapists and really narrowed down what would work best for the kids and stimulate their interest, learning and social skills.”

Dyer said the surface installation has been pushed to spring because recent temperatures aren’t conducive for the work.

All equipment has been funded through donations, but Dyer said she still needs funds for the surface and fence. The total cost of the project is about $375,000.

“We’re pretty close on the flooring, and we’re making a push for the safety fencing,” Dyer said. 

Benefactors who donate $100 to the cause will have their name engraved on a fence picket. So far, Dyer has received donations for more than 400 pickets.

Dyer and co-organizer Donna Howarth began making plans for the playground three years ago because Dyer’s daughter Cassie, who has autism, wanted somewhere she and her friends of all abilities could play together. Cassie is now 19 and a student at Cedarburg High School. 

The equipment from the former playground at Centennial Park will be moved to a neighborhood park in the Shady Hollow subdivision in the spring, village officials said.

Dyer said seeing the project start to shape up is a humbling experience. 

“I’ve been so blessed to have a wonderful community, friends and family that have trusted me and kept pushing me when I wanted to give up,” Dyer said.

“I can’t wait to thank them all. Without them, this playground would not be happening.” 

For more information about the playground and to donate, visit www.allmyfriendsplayground.org.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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