The Kiwanis Park Inclusive Playground, located on Route 5 in the Town of Batavia, will officially be open to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held on June 18th at the park at 6:30 p.m.
The Inclusive Playground, which was built for individuals of all physical abilities, was constructed nearly entirely by private donations as a joint venture between the Town of Batavia, the Genesee ARC, and the Batavia Kiwanis Club. The effort was led by a group of volunteers including Town Board Members Patti Michalak and Chad Zambito, Shelley Falitico, director of Development for the Genesee ARC, Anita Strollo of Kiwanis, Amy Disalvo, Lynn Houseknecht, Sue Maha of Kiwanis, and Rotarian Rosalie Maguire. Design team members included Joe Foresyth of Kiwanis, Lisa Ace and Ricky Palermo. Town of Batavia Highway Superintendent Tom Lichtenthal acted as the project manager.
Twenty-two private donors contributed $73,000 to the effort, including major donations from Kiwanis Club, Bank of Castile, Down Syndrome Support Group, Oatka Milk and Batavia Rotary. County Line Stone of Batavia donated 850 tons of stone for the wheelchair friendly paths that bisect the park.
The park was the signature project of the United Way’s Day of caring on May 8th. On that day, 75 volunteers contributed 450 man-hours to install a Wheel Chair Swing, Roller Table, Omni Spinner, Sway Fun, Sand Diggers, and Adult Molded Bucket Swing. Volunteers also painted the pavilion, spread 150 cubic yards of wood chips, planted seven trees and dozens of flowers.
“It was amazing to see everyone come together to build something so unique for the area,” said Councilperson Michalak. “It was truly a community effort that will benefit everyone.”
The group believes the inclusive playground is the only one of its kind in Western New York, and perhaps all of Upstate New York. “We have not heard of a similar park located anywhere in the region,” added Councilperson Zambito. “Every time we presented the project, no one could believe that this type of facility didn’t already exist in our region and they were eager to help. Now children with disabilities can enjoy a full day at the park with family and friends. It is the single greatest project I have ever been involved in.”
The park, which is located directly across from the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, has already seen an increase in use since the installation of the new equipment. Earlier this year, a canoe launch was installed to access the Tonawanda Creek and as part of the latest improvements, a quarter-mile walking path was added along the creek. Town officials hope to expand that path in the future.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is open to the public. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the event.