For the local club’s 100th anniversary celebration this year, its members are seeking to advance that mission in the Mitchell community with their plan to have an inclusive, accessible playground built along Lake Mitchell at Kiwanis Woodlot Park.
“In honor of our 100-year anniversary, we would like to make some improvements at Kiwanis Woodlot Park. But we want these improvements to be handicap accessible,” said Julie Hart Schutte, president of Mitchell’s Kiwanis Club.
The features of the park include a rocking raft and see-saw, along with a musical activity area and swinging bench, which are all accessible for individuals with disabilities. To make the playground meet accessibility standards, a concrete paved path would stretch from the sidewalk into the playground, and the wood chip surface would allow wheelchair and other wheel transportation devices to navigate around the playground.
According to the designs, the playground would be constructed next to the existing swing set and play area that sits in the center of Kiwanis Woodlot Park, fostering a more inclusive environment in the area.
Schutte recently presented the playground plan to the Parks and Recreation Board, which was met with strong support from the board members. According to Schutte, the park is estimated to cost a little over $64,000. Schutte said the club feels “pretty confident they can raise that money” to fund the entire playground. The Kiwanis Club’s goal is to break ground on the park by the fall during its 100th year anniversary celebration.
“We feel pretty good about the options for grant money. Kiwanis International, our parent group, has grant monies. And Kiwanis is all about kids, so we think they will be very supportive of this,” Schutte said. “We’d like to see a groundbreaking in the fall, since it’s our anniversary year.
A special dedication is planned for the groundbreaking ceremony, as Schutte said the playground will be dedicated to a former Kiwanis member who was a wheelchair user.
Schutte said the club is anticipating a completion date by 2022.
“We would like to dedicate the park in her memory, as she passed away a couple years ago. That was also one of the reasons where this idea came from,” Schutte said.
Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said the new Kiwanis playground would make it the first in the city to be accessible with a wheelchair. However, it’s not the first inclusive, accessible playground to be in the works for the Mitchell community.
“This would be the only playground in the city that you could roll onto with a wheelchair,” Powell said.
Powell pitched an idea roughly two years ago that entailed replacing the existing playground area at Patton Young Park with an accessible playground that would allow individuals with developmental disabilities to access the entire setup.
The Patton Young Park playground that’s in the development stages will have similar features of the Kiwanis setup, including a rocking boat. Powell said the Patton Young playground project that’s estimated to cost around $120,000 is already budgeted and planned to be built by 2022.
“We are working on the Patton Young design, and it will be very similar to this plan,” he said.
Improving and revamping a city park each year by adding more accessible features is a goal Powell has had his sights set on in recent years. With the Patton Young Park improvement project approaching Kiwanis Woodlot Park plan in the works, Powell said he’s proud to be making steady progress toward that goal.
“It’s great to see a club and community members get behind this goal as well, because I want to provide opportunities for everybody. And it doesn’t matter what your physical abilities are, we should all be able to use our city’s facilities, parks and playgrounds,” Powell said.