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Marble Falls inclusive playground could be built next to Colt Elementary

Site for proposed inclusive playground in Marble Falls

The nonprofit Marble Falls Inclusive Play Group currently plans an inclusive playground to be located next to Colt Elementary School on Manzano Mile. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

A proposed inclusive playground in Marble Falls got a big push after school district leaders agreed to lease a piece of land to the nonprofit building the park, which would be designed for children of all abilities.

Leaders of Marble Falls Inclusive Play Group spoke to the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees during the Monday, July 18, meeting. 

The nonprofit wants to build the park next to Colt Elementary School on Manzano Mile. 

Group treasurer Taylor Smith believes the location will facilitate the playground’s mission.

“Manzano Mile is built for buses,” Smith said. “We believe this park will be something that brings students and schools and classes from the surrounding areas to come and play in this park with equipment that some of their kids need.”

Initially, the group planned to ask for the use of only 2 acres on district property. However, after meeting with MFISD Director of Maintenance Michael Phillips at the site, they decided to request an additional acre.

“(Phillips) suggested we ask for one more acre,” Smith said. “That way, we can have more room for a possible Phase 2 later on.”

MFISD board President Kevin Naumann spoke to DailyTrib about how the park fits within the district’s vision statement.

“It falls within our mission of loving every kid,” he said. “I think that’s why it was such an easy discussion at the board level because we’re all about loving and serving every kid. The word ‘every’ is intentional.”

The district is in preliminary talks to draft a long-term land lease agreement with the nonprofit. 

“Originally, the (school district) talked about giving us the land, but (Superintendent) Dr. (Chris) Allen, being a longtime administrator, has seen how difficult it can be for an ISD to give away its property,” Smith said. “Instead of doing that, we’re going to have a long-term land lease for a minimal amount of money.”

After construction is done, the group hopes to transfer maintenance of the park to the city.

“We’re not in the parks business,” Smith said. “We just think this is something the area needs.”

Marble Falls Play Group secretary Ashley Crouse spoke to DailyTrib.com about the nonprofit’s goals for the park.

“We want this to be inclusive for anybody in the community or the surrounding communities, whether you’re able-bodied or not,” she said. “Our main focus is that we just want everybody to be able to come and play.”

Current plans include solid surfacing, shade sails, ramps, and fencing. Two unisex restrooms will include a water fountain and bottle fill station. The group also wants each parking space to be handicap-accessible.

The potential timeline from design through construction would be about seven months, depending on how fundraising efforts go, according to the group. The estimated total cost of the project is $1.4 million.

The idea of an inclusive playground has been discussed among residents, the city, and the Parks and Recreation Commission for some time. After years of setbacks and delays, the nonprofit group of residents is hopeful of finally starting on the project.

A kickoff fundraiser is from 5-7 p.m. Friday, July 29, at Save the World Brewing Company, 1510 Resource Parkway in Marble Falls. The nonprofit will unveil an authentic rendering of the park at the event. 

“This is a community effort,” said group secretary Crouse. “Whether you can help us by sharing the information or by helping us financially, it’s a community project and everybody matters.”

For more information about Marble Falls Inclusive Play Group and the park, visit the nonprofit’s website.

nathan@thepicayune.com