State sets aside $200,000 for Access Cowling

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This rendering shows what Access Cowling, the playground overhaul at Cowling Park in London, will look like when complete.

(Posted April 16, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

With Gov. John Kasich’s signature, the state capital budget bill went into effect March 30. With it comes $200,000 for Access Cowling, a playground project under way in London.

The project encompasses the installation of playground equipment that is accessible to all children, including those with physical and cognitive differences. The location is Cowling Park on North Main Street.

Donations and grants covered the first two phases, completed this past year. They included installation of a walking path, sensory panels, and a structure with slides, bridges and climbing features. State funds will help to cover the next three phases.

“We hope to do those phases the last two weeks in June,” said Amy Rees, president of the London Community Organization (LCO), the non-profit overseeing the project.

The June installation will more than double the size of the climbing area and add the following:

* an “omnispinner”–a merry-go-round with bucket seats;

* a “sway fun”–an apparatus that can hold a wheelchair and includes a steering wheel;

* a “zip cruise”–a double zipline, one with a harness and one with a disk seat, good for racing side-by-side;

* an “oodle swing”–a tire swing without the hole; and

* a swingset with two harness swings, two traditional swings, and two baby bucket swings.

The names of donors to the Access Cowling playground project will be etched into leaves on a three-dimensional tree sculpture at an information kiosk at the park.

Rees thanked the community and State Rep. Bob Hackett of London for making the $200,000 capital appropriation a reality.

“We asked the community to call their state reps to lobby for the cause. I think over 100 people called. I really think that was the catalyst to get it into the bill and passed,” Rees said. “And we want to thank Bob Hackett. He’s the one who made sure it went through and stayed in the bill.”

LCO is starting its final fundraising push to put the finishing touches on the playground project.

“We are continuing to raise funds to make sure we do everything in the park we envisioned,” Rees said.

The playground’s inspiration is Noah Hagmeier, the infant son of Jen and Dan Hagmeier. After Noah died unexpectedly in 2016, the family received an outpouring of financial support via a GoFundMe account their friends set up. After paying bills, the Hagmeiers decided to use the remaining money to buy playground equipment for the park. One of their older sons, Jack, has cerebral palsy. They liked the idea of making possible a place where children of all abilities could forge bonds, like Noah and Jack might have. LCO jumped on the idea and expanded it into a multi-phase overhaul of the playground. Fundraising efforts kicked off in the fall of 2016.

Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/2rjfyes or by sending a check or money order to Access Cowling, c/o Madison County Future Inc., 730 Keny Blvd., London OH 43140.

This rendering shows what Access Cowling, the playground overhaul at Cowling Park in London, will look like when complete.

The names of donors to the Access Cowling playground project will be etched into leaves on a three-dimensional tree sculpture at an information kiosk at the park.

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