SIDNEY — A seed planted by Scott Barr, Shelby County United Way executive director, has bloomed into the Kiwanis-Rotary All Inclusive Park.
Club members, teachers, city of Sidney Parks employees and students volunteered Thursday, Sept. 19, for a community build of the new park, which is located next to Geib Pavilion in Tawawa Park. Construction began at 9 a.m. and was completed Thursday afternoon.
“It’s wonderful to have a resource for families with children of all abilities to have a park to utilize in Tawawa Park. This is a great accomplishment of our businesses, groups and community,” said Barr.
The United Way provided a $40,000 gift to get the campaign underway 18 months ago. Both Kiwanis and Rotary donated $10,000 each toward the project. Emerson also donated $40,000 for the project.
“A lot of money was raised quickly,” said Barr. “We (Duane Gaier, Jessica Guillozet and Barr) multiple times went back to the design company because we kept reaching and surpassing our goal. The park is much larger than we had initially planned for.”
More than 20 volunteers showed up for the initial work of unpacking the equipment, putting it together and placing it in the appropriate location. As one volunteer completed a shift, more volunteers arrived to continue the work on the playground equipment.
Gaier, who is director of parks and member of Rotary, said he was surprised by the number of volunteers who showed up Thursday morning.
“There are more volunteers here than I expected,” said Gaier. “The work is going very quickly. The people who show up this afternoon are going to be pouring the concrete in the holes.”
Gaier said the community support for the project was outstanding.
“We had $85,000 as an initial goal,” said Gaier. “We collected $213,00 in cash. then we have another $45,000 in kind donations from architects, site work, cement and landscaping.”
The all-inclusive park is the first of its kind in the Sidney parks system.
:Jessica had all the confidence in the world we could raise the money,” said Gaier. “The United Way kicked off the campaign. Emerson gave us a significant donation. And all the donations from everyone made the project happen.”
Gaier said he believes this was the first time the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs worked together on a project such as this.
“This was for the community good,” said Gaier. “And that’s what both organizations want to do for the community. It would have been hard for one group to raise the money. By combining, it made it a lot easier.”
Gaier said next week the sidewalks will be poured. The following week, they will pour in place the rubber covering.
“It’s going to be three different colors,” said Gaier. “It will be bright, colorful and inviting for the children to play on.”
Guillozet, who is Kiwanis president and employed by the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said she was thrilled with the construction of the new park.
“The people who will utilize the park are here today to help build it,” said Guillozet. “The Sidney High School DD class sent their students here. S&H Products employees are coming to help. There are three dozen people here who are supported by the Shelby County Board of DD helping.
“The Aktion Club members are also here,” she said. “They donated $500 to the project and they wanted to help.”
Guillozet said the park means inclusion for everyone.
“This means that for parents who have children with disabilities and parents who have disabilities who have children will have someplace to come where they can play with their children on playground equipment.”
The county board, she said, has a Play Project which will use the park to hold support meetings.
The equipment was purchased from Game Time, which is located in Harrison, Ohio.
Sidney High School teacher Sara Conrad, three aides and eight students volunteered to work at the park.
“This is awesome for the kids,” said Conrad. “I had mentioned volunteering to the assistants in my room. The kids wanted to come help.”
Gavin Cain and Michael Martin were two of the students who volunteered to help.
Cain said he was excited to help with the project.
I helped build a sensory square,” said Cain. “I’m going to come back and play on it.”
He said he also likes swings and liked putting the square together.
“I’m excited to be working out here,” said Martin. “I helped with the wrenches and bolts.”
Martin said he also liked to watch the people work on the other pieces of equipment.
Cain, Martin and their fellow students had a busy week. In addition to helping build the park Thursday, they also attended the Guinness World Record event Wednesday at the football stadium.
Game Time employee Bob Greiwe directed the volunteers throughout the day.
“This area — whether it’s New Knoxville or New Bremen or Sidney — is the heart of Ohio,”said Greiwe. “We never have a problem getting volunteers to help. They always come out to help help. Some come out of curiosity and end up volunteering.
“And it doesn’t matter if the volunteer is a male or female, it always works out and there’s a job for everyone,” he said.
Greiwe pointed out the swing set area, where the men were lifting the frame into location while a woman was holding one of the legs to make it stable. Or to another piece of equipment where adults and students were working together.
Greiwe has been in the playground equipment business for 31 years. He said he’s seen many changes, especially after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.
“In 1991, safety standards were adopted,” said Greiwe. “We started going from wood back to metal equipment.
“Then when the ADA was approved, it improved access to playground equipment with an accessible path,” he said. “There was a stable path for people to get to the equipment.
The ADA also changed the way playgrounds were built,” he said. “When we design a playground — and we have four full-time designers — make sure every design meets the intent of the ADA.”
Before volunteers arrived on site Thursday, Dave Nagel Excavating prepared the site for installation of the equipment. The company also dug the holes for placement of the equipment.
Greiwe commended the work Nagel did at the site.
Gaier said a dedication ceremony will be held in October. A date hasn’t been set for the event.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4922