Boca Raton, FL – The Boca Raton community received a sneak peak at the new inclusive playground coming to Patch Reef Park when Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District commissioners unanimously approved its design plans during their recent public meeting.
“We’re really excited,” said David Ogman, who brought the idea of creating a more inclusive park for children like his son, Jordan, to district commissioners. “I think that the kids are going to like it.”
David and wife Stacey attended meetings between District officials and architects from Walters Zackria, providing valuable input throughout the design process.
The new inclusive playground will replace the Pirates Cove playground, located in the western portion of Patch Reef Park between the softball fields and the basketball courts.
The new playground is designed to allow children of all abilities to play together, while giving parents and caretakers more options for their young ones’ fun and safety.
“I know from watching some of these kids, they are eager to keep up with their peers,” Commissioner Steve Engel said. “They want to be just like their pals and this gives them that opportunity.”
Eight-year-old Jordan Ogman’s battle with TECPR2 provided the impetus for the project. When the Ogman’s petitioned district commissioners earlier this year for a playground more suitable to Jordan’s abilities and those of other differently abled children, commissioners acted quickly to approve the request.
Nearly all of the park’s natural features, including grasses, trees and rocks, will remain. Climbing structures, swings and slides will have softer artificial turf underneath, along with shade structures above for year-round comfort.
The existing splash pad will receive a makeover, adding new interactive elements. And a new Bankshot Basketball feature that exposes children to the sport in a non-competitive manner via adjustable hoops and different carnival-style games will be installed.
Features like a wheelchair-compatible swing set and slides mounted on grassy hills rather than ladders afford easier access for children of all abilities.
“It’s very apparent this is a place where everyone belongs,” district executive director Briann Harms said.
For the parents, additional benches afford better, shaded, sight lines for monitoring their child’s play. There will be completely new picnic areas, restroom facilities and additional ADA parking. A fence will surround the entire playground area to keep curious children from wandering unsupervised into different areas of the park.
With the design approved, district officials began the process to solicit bids for the playground’s construction. The district will also enter the city of Boca Raton’s permitting process.
“We’re just anxious to see (Jordan) in the park enjoying it,” district Commissioner Bob Rollins told the Boca Raton City Council during August’s joint meeting between the two bodies.
There is good reason to move the project along as quickly as possible. Children with Jordan’s condition rarely live into their second decade. Jordan constantly expresses his excitement for the construction of the new playground.
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