Breakfast to benefit bridge at Access Cowling


(Posted April 14, 2017)

By Lori Smith, Staff Writer

The dream of creating a park accessible to children with different abilities has connected the Madison County community in countless ways. The newest endeavor involves creating a bridge to provide easier access for all.

Over the last year, the London Community Organization (LCO) partnered with Madison County Future Inc. and the city of London to build Access Cowling, the area’s first inclusive playground, explained Amy Rees, LCO secretary. The first phase of the structure has been installed at Cowling Park and is designed to be accessible for all children, including those with physical and cognitive differences, she explained.

“This whole project will benefit everybody, whether it is kids with differing abilities or not,” Rees said. “It’s going to be a wonderful place for families to be together.”

The first phase is complete and includes two molded plastic swings, a paved pathway spanning the park, five activity panels and an information kiosk lining the new walkway.

The second phase will begin this summer and will add a large play structure and a music garden to the area. Plans include a total of four phases totaling $400,000 in improvements to the park.

The project began as a small memorial for local child Noah Hagmeier, who died at 7 months old in May 2016.

“This whole project is bringing our community together,” Rees said. “Our organizations are in a great position to do something special while also making London a true destination, drawing families from near and far.”

The project continues to evolve as various community groups suggest ways to help, she said, whether it is something as simple as planting flowers or as extensive as major construction.

Most recently, the London Lions Club and Madison County Engineer Bryan Dhume joined forces to design and build a bridge at Cowling Park. Although it is not something in the original plans, Rees said it makes perfect sense.

“The bridge is going to fit in perfectly for the long-range vision of the park,” Rees said, noting it will connect the playground and the multi-purpose path in a one-quarter mile walking loop around the entire park.

Dhume said he will be doing a hydraulic study on the area to make sure there will not be any drainage issues, and the county will be donating some bridge beams from a temporary project that they no longer need.

The eight-foot wide bridge will be a steel beam structure on concrete with a timber floor and wood railings and will be located toward the southern property line of the park.

“It would be wide enough to take a mower across or even a horse-drawn carriage,” Dhume said. “It will be a nice, heavy bridge that will last a long time.”

The timber floor of the bridge is the most expensive part of the project, and they need about $7,500 to pay for it. The London Lions Club has stepped up to help raise funds for the bridge and is holding a pancake fundraiser from 7:30 to 11 a.m. April 22 at the Madison Senior Living Facility, 351 Keny Blvd., said Lion Greg Eades. The cost is $6 for adults, $3 for children, and first responders eat free. The breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, coffee, juice or milk.

“The Lions considered building a bridge a few years back, but that didn’t get off the ground,” Eades said. “But with the exciting things happening at Access Cowling, we thought this would be a perfect time to build a bridge.”

The goal is to have the bridge ready for dedication by fall, Dhume said.

Eades said he is confident the Lions Club will be able to raise the funds needed to construct the bridge by then and may even have extra to donate to the rest of the project.

“We have a very giving community,” Eades said. “The last big pancake breakfast we did a few years back raised $14,000. We have a great community and Access Cowling is going to make it better for everyone.”

Rees said plans for Access Cowling include several playground structures with wheelchair accessibility as well as specially adapted playground equipment such as zip lines, slides and seesaws. So far, about $90,000 has been raised, including a recent $1,000 donation from Los Mariachis restaurant in London.

Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Madison County Future Inc., 730 Keny Blvd., London, OH 43140, or made on the GoFundMe page


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