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Port Richey's Waterfront Park may add playground accessible to disabled

PORT RICHEY — In its 16 years, Port Richey's Waterfront Park has gone without a major makeover, but discussions are under way among city officials to possibly throw some cash at a rebirth.

Already, there is an effort among city officials to build a state-of-the-art playground that would accommodate disabled children.

On Tuesday, Port Richey City Council members approved moving forward with a fact-finding mission by staff into building the playground at the 13-acre park at 8119 Old Post Road.

"In my opinion it's a win win," said council member Nancy Britton.

Initially, the city will seek a free consultation from Boundless Playgrounds, a nonprofit company that builds playgrounds for disabled children, Port Richey police records clerk Kristina Coolidge told the council.

Coolidge said the Pasco County school district serves more than 10,000 children with physical disabilities and another 3,000 with learning disabilities. But in Pasco, there is only one playground, in Starkey Park, for disabled children, and it is not wheelchair or walker accessible.

"It creates a stigma with these kids," she said.

The playground could be a catalyst for the creation of a master plan to revamp the entire park, said James McGuinness, head of the city's building and development services department.

McGuinness said the park is in need of a "general rebirth."

"It's time for a makeover, and we have the funds to do it. So this could be the first step to that," McGuinness said of the playground.

The city has $150,000 in the remaining three months of the fiscal year allotted for parks, and Mayor Richard Rober agreed that planning would be key to a revival.

"I don't want to piecemeal it over there," he said. "I think it's imperative that we master plan the park."

Council member Terry Rowe also called for inquiries into building the playground to move forward, but expressed concerns over vandalism that in the past has plagued Waterfront Park.

Coolidge said in response to the vandalism, city police officers patrol the park at least 12 times a day, and four cameras have been installed at the park with plans for another six to 10 to be added.

By the numbers

10,000+



Number of children with disabilities the Pasco school district serves.

3,000



Number of children with learning disabilities in the district.

1 Number of parks for disabled children in the county (and it is not wheelchair or walker accessible).

Source: Port Richey police records clerk Kristina Coolidge

Port Richey's Waterfront Park may add playground accessible to disabled 06/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:03pm]
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