Creating an inclusive play park in Marble Falls is once again on the agenda for a community group that came before Parks and Recreation commissioners at their meeting Monday, Sept. 13. Group representatives Amanda Leifeste and Leigh Wessels presented preliminary plans and goals to the commissioners.
Inclusive playgrounds are built with people of all abilities in mind and include things such as smooth playground surfaces, fenced-in areas, and wheelchair-accessible elements, Leifeste explained.
“If you guys are on board, our next step is the City Council to, hopefully, get a resolution that if we raise X amount of money, hopefully, the city will pick (the project) up.” Leifeste said. “If the city’s not willing to pick it up, that’s OK. We’re going to build this playground.”
Adding an inclusive play area to the city’s parks system is a project in which the commission has been interested for years. Residents, including commission Vice-Chair Dedrick Thompson, advocated converting Westside Park into an inclusive playground just last year, but the project has not come to fruition. Thompson, who was unable to attend the Sept. 13 meeting, is involved with the new group, Liefeste said.
Parks and Recreation Director Lacey Dingman said the group’s next steps should be solidifying project details, including estimated costs and a proposed location, and then working with the City Council to form a city resolution expressing a commitment to the project. Should the city choose to partner with the group, the project would likely be placed on the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.
The group, which is currently unnamed, plans to form its own 501(c)(3) organization for the project. Until then, members are raising money through an Austin Community Foundation field of interest fund, which they have named the Marble Falls Inclusive Playground Fund. The group hopes to raise at least $500,000 for the project.
Wessels said the group is open to creating a playground in an already existing park, such as Johnson Park.
“We’re committed to this project, and we’re passionate about it,” Wessels said. “Right now, we’d like to start fundraising and start our grant writing process, but we really need a rendering for our playground. To do that, we need a survey and area where it’s going to be. That’s why we’re hoping to partner with the city and get some sort of commitment as in, ‘Yes, this is where we’ll plan the park,’ so we can go ahead.”