COLONIE — The Colonie Mohawk River Park will soon have a new playground and an expanded pavilion, thanks to a total of $125,000 in funds secured by Assemblyman Phil Steck.
The new playground will be an adaptive one, which means it will be inclusive and accessible to children with and without special needs or disabilities. Camp Colonie — a summer camp for children and adults five to 21 years old with physical, developmental, or emotional disabilities as well children and young adults without disabilities — will utilize the new playground and pavilion, along with the general public.
“Colonie Town Park is an invaluable community resource and by expanding the pavilion we’ll be able to host bigger and better events,” Steck said. “Camp Colonie, which relies on park facilities, is a wonderful, integrative experience that works with area school districts, and I’m proud to do my part to help the camp thrive.”
According to Steck, the larger pavilion will provide more space and shelter to campers during events such as thunderstorms.
The Camp Colonie program is organized by Easter Seals, a group dedicated to providing aid to people with disabilities. Easter Seals, and by extension, Camp Colonie, has been utilizing the park for years, according to Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan.
Mahan said that the town is definitely grateful for the funding, and that the town had been planning on implementing an adaptive playground since last year. The playground will include swings, slides, matting, and benches, which, Mahan pointed out, can be used by all children. The pavilion will complement the new playground equipment.
“It’s a much more user friendly and it’s much safer. It is truly an adaptive, all inclusive playground,” Mahan said. However, the equipment will be built in such a way that those with disabilities and varying degrees of motor skills can use the equipment in a safe manner. According to Mahan, the new equipment will also provide disabled children with much more independence.
Construction of the new playground started last Wednesday, and construction crews will continue to work on it until the project’s completion. The $125,000 will go towards the construction of the pavilion. The new playground equipment will cost approximately $115,000 according to Mahan. Right now, there isn’t a solid budget for the entire project from start to finish. Once Steck’s funding is utilized, Mahan said the town will examine what else, if anything, is needed to complete the project, but was confident that everything would be finished in a timely manner, due to the fact that an inclusive playground of this type is something that has been a goal for awhile.
“It’s important to let all of kids have as much independence as possible,” Mahan said. “In this day and age, an adaptive program, or playground, it’s certainly a very welcoming addition because we have kids who live in town or visit town that have special needs, and we want everyone to have the same opportunities to have a good time.”