Hollister Management Services director Mike Chambless received a letter from “Jack”, an 11-year-old boy who requires the use of a mobility aid.
Chambless said that Jack has some challenges in his life that require him to use a mobility assistant device that prevents him from using the playground equipment at Klauer Memorial Park on Beverly Drive.
“That’s wrong,” he said. “All our children should be able to use our playgrounds.”
The city council on Nov. 16 unanimously voted to use $186,000 from the park development fund to complete Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and enhancements for the playground.
Chambless asked the city council for the funds from the Park Development Fund–which has a balance of $3.9 million–for ADA improvements and enhancements of the Klauer Park playground, which was built in 1999.
Most of the playground was built to the standards at the time; however, it does not meet the current design standards for a fully accessible playground, according to Chambless.
Councilwoman Carol Lenoir thanked Chambless for taking action on the item because she too believes that every child should have access to a playground.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez told the Free Lance that they were already on a mission to get all the parks up to date with ADA standards, but the novel coronavirus put a halt to any progress.
“We had a big setback this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but we’ll be doing some big things next year,” he said.
Other new park upgrades on the list include Dunne Park on West Street, which has a playground that’s 26 years old and isn’t ADA compliant. The park is also in the process of getting a dedicated site for three pickleball courts.
Chambless predicts construction on the upgrades will take two months to complete. However, delivery time on the equipment is still up in the air. He said that special equipment like this isn’t manufactured until it’s ordered.
“My expectation is that Jack will be out there cutting a ribbon in April,” he said.
Chambless mentioned during the meeting that Jack participated in the process of deciding what features to bring to the park, identifying a particular feature. But, the youngster will also be surprised with several other features including an accessible ramp that will allow him to access part of the towers on the playground and a slide.
Other upgrades include access to a “We-Go-Round,” which is similar to a merry-go-round and is ample enough for wheelchair access. A musical instrument that’s similar to a xylophone called the Serenade will also be installed, according to Chambless.
The new device is made up of 15 color-coded chimes and comes equipped with a music book with six classic songs including “Happy Birthday”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Bingo.”
But the most important feature is the city will remove the loose filled rubber out of the playground, replacing it with DuraSAFE “Plus” rubber playground tile surfacing to allow for ADA accessibility. The cost of the new tiles is a little more than $79,000.
“[Jack] didn’t ask for it but I think we should go the extra mile and do things right,” Chambless said.