Pines Rec Parks talks about inclusive playgrounds


By Greg Ellison

(October 14, 2021) Attracting new committee members and considering potential projects dominated discussions at the Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Committee meeting on Monday.

Committee member Kathi Gottesman provided an update on the current list of participants, which is expected to decrease next year.

Gottesman said members Trey Denk, Joe Pino and Vanessa Alban will be leaving the fold soon.

“I will probably be leaving in January,” she said.

Next year, Gottesman plans to move closer to his grandchildren.

Under the association’s bylaws, the recreation and parks committee can have between three and nine members.

With five members remaining after departures, Gottesman said up to four vacancies can be filled.

Committee members agreed that special emphasis should be placed on attracting young parents to join us.

In other cases, Director of Recreation and Parks, Debbie Donahue, has reported on the installation of kayak racks at the Swim and Racquet Club.

Donahue said the kayak racks are expected to be installed next spring.

Committee member Laura Scharle stressed the importance of educating the public on cold water safety if supports are available for use in early spring.

Donahue also previewed several locations under consideration for a recreational pier.

At this point, Donahue said general manager John Viola had offered three spots, including the Swim and Racquet Club, Wood Duck and the White Horse Park boat launch.

“We are in the early stages,” she said.

Brian Lewis, from game company Game Time, also attended the meeting, which looked at options for adding inclusive amenities to Bainbridge Park or other Pines facilities.

Donahue said the proposal will be completed no earlier than 2023 to allow enough time to secure grants and donations.

“I don’t want to just jump in,” she said.

Donahue said building inclusive play areas is more complex and costly than traditional children’s offerings.

“We need to know the number of pieces and the size dimensions,” she said.

Lewis said his company specializes in barrier-free playgrounds.

To start the project, the design work would have to be completed.

“There are a lot of different things we can do after developing the plan and then fundraise based on those,” he said.

By involving a nonprofit partner in the planning process, more funding channels are available, Lewis said.

“Planning is the source of success,” he said.

The aim of design development is to take into account the needs of the “child as a whole”, including the physical, socio-emotional, sensory, cognitive and communication elements.

Lewis said studies of data have shown that about 85 percent of children aged 3 to 21 have disabilities in at least one area of ​​needs.

Committee chair Patti Stevens said a development team should be formed to flesh out the details of the project.

Lewis said Game Time is a “turnkey” company that could both build and oversee future maintenance of included gaming equipment.

“Playing time is the most important in the business,” he said.

Due to the company’s national reach and decades of experience, Lewis said the project design will be included in project quotes at no additional cost.

“We also have a great reach with manufacturers,” he said.

The introduction of an inclusive playground has the potential to attract visitors to the Pines.

“It could be a destination point in the region,” he said. “When we build something like this, people are going to come to it.”

Lewis said that in many cases projects are completed in phases, with equipment and offerings geared to meet the diverse needs of the community.

“We all have the ability to play,” he said.

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