Last month we celebrated the official opening of the much-anticipated “Playground for All” at Chestnut Ridge Park, a project that came to fruition thanks to the collaborative efforts of many community partners. The first of its kind to be located in an Erie County park, this dedicated play space is fully accessible for children and adults of all physical and developmental abilities. The playground incorporates a universal design that allows everyone to experience, enjoy and interact with others in a sensory-rich environment that is clean, safe and welcoming to all.
While much attention was given to that new feature located inside Erie County’s signature public park, it is important for everyone to know that your county government already has $2.1 million in capital funding in place for four more inclusive playgrounds that we plan to install in four of the county’s heritage parks: Como Lake, Emery, Ellicott Creek and Akron Falls. Those projects are currently being planned and we expect to celebrate the eventual openings of each of those dedicated play spaces over the next one to two years.
Inclusive playgrounds have many benefits. They provide a play space that enables children to develop physically, socially and emotionally. In addition to being fully accessible and inviting to people with disabilities, especially parents with disabilities, inclusive playgrounds are a resource for grandparents, aging caregivers and anyone else who want to interact with the children in their care. Their universal design permits all children to play together, including kids with disabilities, and has a wide range of play features to accommodate children’s interests. The goal is to remove barriers to social interaction by giving everyone equal opportunity to enjoy themselves. I am extremely proud of the Erie County Parks System. Thanks to the leadership of Commissioner Troy Schinzel, we offer a wide variety of recreation activities and access to unique facilities in natural environment areas as a true alternative to localized park settings. County residents have year-round opportunities to enjoy their favorite recreational activities in natural settings. An easy way for anyone to locate any Erie County park or forest is to access our “Park Locator” online feature by visiting www.erie.gov/parks/. In addition, anyone looking to host a special event inside one of our park shelters or buildings can rent them next year by making a reservation by calling 716-858-8355 starting on Jan. 5.
My administration remains committed to improving and enhancing the more than 12,000 acres of parks, forests, golf courses and beaches so that you, the public, can enjoy them. I hold our parks in a public trust for future generations and firmly believe we must continually invest in them so they can be enjoyed by all for many years to come.