Inclusive playground still a go in West Jefferson

Local and state leaders met recently to talk about installation of an inclusive playground at Garrette Park in West Jefferson: (from left) State Rep. Bill Dean, Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Susan Thompson, West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin, Madison County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Kell and State Senator Bob Hackett.

(Posted Feb. 7, 2021)

The pandemic slowed it but can’t stop it.

A year ago, West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin announced that West Jefferson’s Garrette Park would be the location of Madison County’s next inclusive playground. The hope was to use a capital fund grant from the state of Ohio to finance a significant portion of the project, with the remainder of the funds gathered from other entities.

Collaborating with such agencies as Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD), Martin gathered information about playgrounds that are accessible to individuals of all abilities. An inclusive playground opened in London’s Cowling Park in 2018.

Initially, the goal was to revamp Garrette Park’s playground by summer 2020.
Like most everything else, those timelines were affected by the global pandemic.

That did not deter those involved from staying on top of the project. Recently, Martin met with others to confirm that the project has not been forgotten. Those on hand included Martin, State Senator Bob Hackett, MCBDD Superintendent Susan Thompson, State Representative Bill Dean, and Madison County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Kell.

“We thought it was going to be put off because of COVID, but we were told to go ahead,” Martin said.

Hackett, who was involved in London’s inclusive playground project, anticipates the capital grant for the Garrette Park project will be approximately $200,000.

“That is what the capital budget is for,” Hackett said. “We are so pleased with West Jefferson and the development of this area.”

Thompson is thankful for the county’s continued support of individuals with disabilities.

“Madison County has a great reputation for being very inclusive for individuals with disabilities,” Thompson said. “We are so thankful that we have so many people in the county and throughout the state that make efforts to have things all-inclusive.”
Hackett sees the project as yet another opportunity for people of all abilities to enjoy the community.

“You can see how this has had an impact with the usage of the park in London, not only by individuals with disabilities, but it has been an asset to the entire community,” he said. “It shows how Madison County really gets together to support each other.”

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