SIDNEY — The year 2019 showed what two service clubs are capable of completing when they work together.
“Members from the Sidney Rotary and Kiwanis clubs collaborated to fund an inclusive play area for children of all abilities,” said Duane Gaieer, city of Sidney Parks and Recreation Department director. “Siblings and friends are now able to play side by side on play equipment especially designed for everyone’s capabilities.”
His report continues:
Discussions began in 2018 when a steering committee comprised of members of both organizations was formed. Designs were submitted from the vendor and the steering committee and the staff from the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities then reviewed the plans. A final design was approved and a fundraising goal of $160,000 was established. It did not take long to realize that they would have to go back to the drawing board to redesign the play area, as the donations surpassed the initial goal very quickly.
Among additional recreational components, the final design included, poured in place rubber flooring, a merry-go-round that will accommodate a wheel chair and a feature called an “Expression Swing” which allows the adult and child to face each other while swinging. The dedication for this new addition in Tawawa Park was held on Oct. 31, 2019 at Geib Pavilion. The estimated donations totaled almost $250,000.
Tawawa Park’s shelter reservations were almost 600 in 2019 and we do not see a slowdown in 2020. Every year on Jan. 1, the phone in the parks and recreation office starts ringing with people calling to make a reservation for their annual family reunions, birthday parties, graduation parties, company picnics and many other events. In addition to the shelter reservations, baseball and softball totaled 864 games, at Harmon, Flanagan Sports Complex and Custenborder. Summertime is very busy at the locations that benefit the youth and adults from the area. Ten different leagues play ballgames at these three facilities.
There were over 1,200 attendees at the recreation programs provided by the city in 2019. One of the higher attended clinics was “Stories in the Park,” which is a collaboration between the city of Sidney and the Amos Memorial Public Library, was held at seven different parks in the city. A few of the additional 31 clinics offered to the public were, Fishing Derby at Tawawa Lake, Movie Day at the Senior Center, sand volleyball and a new clinic, bocce ball were an option in the park system. Brochures will be passed out to the schools for 2020.
Free lunches were again provided to anyone 18 years of age or under at 12 different locations in Sidney. Wilson Health prepared the meals for recreation staff to pick up and deliver to the different locations. There were 8,115 meals served and was funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. On Fridays, to go along with the weekly, lunchtime meals, the kids were given non-perishable food items to get them through the weekend. These meals are 100 percemt funded by donations from organizations and businesses in the community.
Unfortunately, the free-swimming lessons offered to the public in 2019 were cancelled due to lack of lifeguard staffing. While the funding was available for the program, the number of lifeguards that were hired for the water park season was not enough to support the normal operations and the lessons. There will be opportunities sponsored by the city of Sidney and the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA for guard certification classes this winter.
A few things you will be seeing new for the parks in 2020 include a new play structure at Custenborder Fields, disc golf course installed in Tawawa Park, a dog park and parkland development in the Heritage Manor sub-division.