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Inclusive park coming to Bryan

This article is brought to you by The Bryan Times

By Lucas Bechtol lbechtol@bryantimes.com

Aug 9, 2022

The Bryan Parks and Recreation Department is working to build an all-inclusive park at the location of the former Lincoln Elementary School. This picture shows a graphical representation of what the park, expected to open in spring 2024, could look like.

Courtesy graphic.


Kids of all abilities will be able to play on a new park coming to the former Lincoln Elementary School in 2024.


Ben Dominique, director of the Bryan Parks and Recreation Department, said the plan is to build an inclusive park for people no matter their ability level.


“We want to create a unique play environment that’s accessible and fun,” he said. “We think we can do that with this playground.”


The project idea came from Paula Kline.


Kline, a former teacher at Bryan City Schools and current park board member, said she brought up the idea of an inclusive park nearly 10 years ago.



“I worked with handicapped children and every year when we went on a field trip we had to drive to Fort Wayne, (Indiana), to Taylor’s Dream Park for the kids to have something to play on,” she said. “They couldn’t play at the Imagination Station. There wasn’t anything in town they play with, especially the kids in the wheel chairs.”


Kline joined the park board in 1998 and started talking about an inclusive park about nine years ago.


However, she said they had other priorities to contend with, such as working on the road through Recreation Park and building bike paths.


“Finally, it’s my turn to get the park,” she said. “It’s a dream come true.”



Now, Dominique said the park fits a need not only for Bryan but also the county.

“The number of inclusive play areas in northwest Ohio is very limited,” he said. “Therefore, we feel like this is a project that will fit a large need in our area.”


With the need identified and a project to fit it, they just need to get the money, which Dominique said they will do with strictly private donations and grants, using no city funds.

Kline said the community has already gotten some grants as well as donations from the Bryan High School Class of 1967 (her class) as well as Power in the Purse.


Dominique said they also received a grant from the Ability Center of Greater Toledo. Other reports have placed that grant at $50,000.


They’re still working on funding, as Dominique said their playground plans come with a $500,000-$600,000 price tag.


“The key is that’s adaptable to what we’ll be able to raise,” he said. “We’re not going to spend unless we have it to spend ... I’m a firm believer that you shoot for stars and if you land on the moon you’re happy. So, we’re going to shoot for the stars.”


A fundraising campaign is planned to begin in September with funds going through the Bryan Area Foundation.


The plan is to break ground in fall of next year with opening and dedication happening in spring 2024.


Location


The former Lincoln Elementary School property, located on Butler Street, was selected as the location.


The school was demolished and the property transferred to the city in 2017.

Dominique said this is a good location for a number of reasons.


“There’s been this big push lately to revitalize the downtown and the Lincoln property, to me, is kind of close to the downtown area,” he said. “It gives us a park on what would be considered the east side of town, close to downtown. And it’s a property that kind of sits vacant right now.”


Kline said the location is great.


“With Spangler’s museum coming downtown, other schools can come visit the museum and go down to the park to play,” she said.

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