County considering ways to support sensory playground project

Warren County will be looking for ways to support an inclusive playground project in the City of Warren.

Monday’s commissioners work session didn’t include any traditional county business but the commissioners heard from Dr. Bill Clark and Adam Meneo who are driving a sensory playground project planned for Lacy Park.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said that the reason for their presentation is to explore how the county would benefit from such a playground and how the commissioners could partner to assist the effort.

Meneo outlined the scope of the project and detailed all of the entities and individuals — including State Representative Kathy Rapp and State Senator Scott Hutchinson, who have lent their support to the project.

Clark said that the total project cost is $530,000. In a joint effort with the City of Warren — which will result in a host of other additions and renovations at Lacy, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provided a grant of $265,000 that requires a dollar-for-dollar match.

He said fundraising has been “slow but sure.”

The City of Warren will bring $100,000 to the table leaving the project organizers to raise an additional $165,000. The Warren Rotary Club has donated $50,000 and Clark explained that an additional $48,000 has been raised with $9,500 in commitments beyond that.

He added the plan is to break ground next summer.

“It’s got a real positive momentum,” he said.

“It’s been amazing, the support,” Meneo added.

Clark spoke about making the playground a “lightning rod for the community,” and a “conduit for other events.”

While they are optimistic the fundraising goal can be hit, Meneo noted that the sensory playground elements could still be constructed but without the more general park improvements.

“We’re very confident in making this a reality in the next year or two,” he said.

Eggleston said the current Lacy Park is heavily underutilized and added he would have a conversation with county officials about funds that could potentially be contributed and that the county might be able to do to assist in fundraising.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin suggested the “small pot of recreation dollars” the county has under Act 13, the state’s Marcellus Shale impact fee legislation as a possible source, and added that he “would be happy to write letters of support.”