Lions Club, City partner to build special needs playground

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Published July 24, 2014

By David Tuma, Journal reporter

Great ideas start with small things that grow into something big. The Belton Lions Club just received confirmation for a $75,000 grant from the Lions Club International Foundation for special needs playground equipment. Total cost of the project is $180,000, and it is a cooperative effort by the Belton Lions Club and the City of Belton.
In the fall of 2012, Mac Parker came to the Belton City Council requesting an amendment to the Parks and Recreation Master Plan to accommodate a special needs park in Chisholm Trail Park. The Belton Lions Club had raised over $7,000 for the project. Fellow Lions Club member Richard Weaver and Parker were working together on the project for the Belton Lions Club.
The park was moved to Heritage Park because the City of Belton had $50,000 budgeted for playground equipment at that park. Those funds were added to the $65,000 the Belton Lions Club raised locally. The combined effort of the two organizations and their cooperation were one of the main reasons they were awarded the $75,000 grant.
“By moving this to Heritage Park the City of Belton could partner with the Lions Club,” City Manager Sam Listi said. “It is a great example of what partnerships can accomplish. This is huge for our community.”
It isn’t a small project, with a playground area of 90 feet by 60 feet. Padding under the playground area is field turf with deep padding and multiple access ramps. The equipment is for all children and includes swings, five slides, a merry go-round, monkey bars and a gravity cube.
“Wheel chairs can get access to all areas because of the ramps and the turf. Most playgrounds have sand or gravel,” said Robert Jones, who worked extensively on the project for the Lions Club. “The beauty of this is you can go from one area to the other because of the way it is all connected. Parents with special needs can use the playground. It is just an amazing facility.”
The equipment will be ordered in the fall and should be installed by the end of the year. Webuildfun, Inc. won the bid for the project. The company is Texas-based.
“The fun will start when we break ground on the project,” Jones said. “I think the key to this project was partnering with the city. It enabled us to have a great design to present to local citizens who might donate to the project. If it was just another playground it would have been a tough sell.”