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Playground for kids with disabilities to get makeover

Independence Park in Johnson County raising money for accessible renovation

Aleah Hordges | News 8 at 6 p.m.

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — One of the oldest “all-accessible” playgrounds in the state is getting a makeover.

Independence Park has more than 100 visitors a day, according to Johnson County Parks and Recreation. The organization is planning to improve accessibility for kids with disabilities.

Leigh Duke, a mother who often brings her child to the playground, said, “I think that there definitely could be a lot more accessibility. There’s like a couple swings, but for the most part there’s not a whole lot of easy access.”

The park has been around for 19 years, and some of the equipment has been showing its age. It’s been removed because it became too dangerous.

Megan Bowman, Johnson County parks superintendent, said, “One swing was geared toward people with mobility issues and it’s a $800 piece so replacing that doesn’t make sense when we’re going to replace all of it coming very soon.”

The project will cost $335,188. Johnson County Parks and Recreation raised about half of the money as of Wednesday. They want to level the playground’s ground to make it easier for kids in wheelchairs and add ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in between play equipment. Those are just a few things that the project entails.

“Technology and playground equipment itself has grown a lot and improved a lot with the quality of material and making it more accessible to all,” Bowman said.

Fundraising has been happening throughout the year. Johnson County Parks and Recreation has also received some grants. It has been working with community partners to host events. A community member started a GoFundMe page.

Visitor Seth Owens said, “It’s something for the community so I feel like it’s a good thing. Something that’s good we can put our money to.”

The project will start this winter and be finished in the spring.

News 8 asked what would happen if all the money isn’t received by the time of construction.

“We are looking into other funding options, like project financing,” the parks superintendent said. “We may also need to eliminate components from the design until more funds are raised. Park funds are being used to fund this as well, but there is only so much that we have to contribute. That is where the financing will help us spread out the cost.”