PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pasco County's board of county commissioners approved $215,000 in funding Tuesday for a universal playground to be built at Wesley Chapel District Park.
- $125,000 worth of donations has been accepted for project
- Work could be complete within 45 days of start
- More Pasco County headlines
The board also accepted $125,000 in donations for the project from the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel, AdventHealth of Wesley Chapel, and Lennar Homes.
"There's kids that if there's not adaptive equipment for them, they just can't participate like other kids. Again — we want to make sure every kid can participate," said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.
Moore said he approached the county's Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources department about the project after noticing a void at the park. Parks Director Keith Wiley said Moore's timing was perfect since staffers were already talking about starting a summer camp for kids with special needs.
"We started asking questions: 'Well, if you have a special needs child, where do you take them?' And we started looking at maps and initially, it was 50 miles, 25 miles — nothing in Pasco County," said Wiley.
Wiley said all playgrounds in the county currently meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessibility, but this new playground will go even further.
"It's one thing to allow a child or someone in a wheelchair to roll up to a piece, but what we wanted them to be able to do was actually get on maybe a ramp and go through an entire piece. So, one of the pieces that we're actually looking at from an equipment perspective allows that transition from the ground level up into the piece of equipment," said Wiley. "We're also extremely excited to have a very diverse set of equipment. So, whether it's music, whether it's sensory in terms of touch, I think that the focus of the design will have to be as diverse as possible."
Work is expected to start on the playground in the next two months. Wiley said it could be finished within 45 days after that, depending on how quickly the project moves along.
"It's not only children, it's the parents of the children. There's not a lot of opportunity for them sometimes to socialize with other parents. They're stuck at home sometimes because the children just don't have a lot to do," said Moore.
The universal playground will be built within feet of the existing play set at Wesley Chapel District Park.