Brownwood’s Allcorn Park will be the site of new playground equipment designed for use by special needs children if the Arc of Brownwood — the Association of Retarded Citizens — achieves its goal.
Council members heard a presentation by Arc representatives Tuesday and approved the use of Allcorn Park as the site for the new playground equipment — which will also be intended for use by children who are not special needs. Arc representatives described the proposed playground as an “inclusivity playground.”
The council’s action did not include the use of city funds. The city will work with the Arc to more fully develop the details, City Manager Emily Crawford said via email later Tuesday.
Arc representatives told council members the proposed budget for the project is about $150,000, and the Arc will be seeking grants as well as seeking funds from local businesses, community organizations and foundations, council members were told.
Currently, $13,000 has been secured and verbal agreements for additional funds have been received based on reaching a collaborative arrangement with the City of Brownwood.
The Arc has developed a committee consisting of Arc president Michelle Thomas, Arc treasurer Lane Dryden, Jana Brown and Shawntay Sparks-Hubbard to coordinate the project.
“We’ve had a dream, the past six years or more, about an inclusive park that we’ve seen other communities build, and I think it’s an opportunity for Brown County to step forward and provide something for these special needs kids,” Dryden told council members.
The current play equipment at Allcorn is not designed for use by special needs children because the equipment and the dirt/sand cover prevent wheelchairs from gaining access to the equipment, council members were told.
The Arc’s goal is to begin formal project planning in April based on the approval of the city and secured funds.
The following tasks have been completed, council members were told:
• Touring of other inclusive play facilities
• Equipment researched to determine what will best meet the community’s needs
• Conservations with Brownwood school officials on how the park will support the children at Woodland Heights Elementary School
• Vendors researched
• Held meetings with city officials
The inclusive playground equipment will not only allow the special needs children to play but will help with cognitive development and will encourage social interaction, council members were told.
Dryden told council members Arc, which is a state and national organization, tried to change the name “to get away from the name ‘retarded.’ But National couldn’t come up with anything, so we’re the Arc of Brown County.”