Erie County Parks Department, Assemblyman Burke join Chestnut Ridge Conservancy to kick off fundraising capital campaign for new playground
Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Assemblyman Patrick Burke (142nd district), Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel, President of the Chestnut Park Conservancy Gordon Panek, and conservancy members at the Chestnut Ridge casino to announce the start of a capital campaign to fund the newest addition to the park’s recreational offerings. An inclusive “playground for all” is planned for the park near the casino, offering a fully accessible play space for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. The space is the first of its kind in an Erie County park, and will incorporate a universal design play space for children and people of all ages to experience, enjoy and interact with in a sensory-rich environment.
“Chestnut Ridge Park is the crown jewel of our parks’ system, an expansive and welcoming natural space that is unparalleled in Erie County and Western New York. Home to the world-class natural wonder eternal flame as well as over a thousand acres of unspoiled woodlands, Chestnut Ridge has also seen millions of dollars in improvements and upgrades under my administration, from upgraded shelters, restrooms and parking lots to the installation of a new tow rope on the ski hill just last month,” Poloncarz said. “Today we are announcing the start of a capital campaign to bring a new attraction to Chestnut Ridge, a ‘playground for all’ that will bring families and children together in a play space that is inclusive, welcoming and fun for all. I thank Assemblyman Burke for his support of this project, along with the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy, for working with our Parks Department as we take steps to make this exciting plan a reality.”
Burke said, "I am excited to announce that I have secured $125,000 for the building of ‘a playground for all’ in Chestnut Ridge Park. While the park serves as a regional attraction with unique features such as famous toboggan runs and fantastic views of Lake Erie and the Buffalo skyline, the playground equipment is not entirely accessible for everyone in our community. The addition of this inclusive playground will make Erie County’s largest, most popular park welcoming for individuals, children and families of all abilities.”
Inclusive playgrounds have many benefits, providing a sensory-rich play space that enables children to develop physically, socially and emotionally. In addition to being fully accessible and inviting to people with disabilities, especially parents with disabilities, inclusive playgrounds are a resource for grandparents and aging caregivers who want to interact with the children in their care. Their universal design permits all children to play together, including kids with disabilities, and has a wide range of play features to accommodate children’s interests.
The “playground for all” will be located next to the casino at Chestnut Ridge, overlooking the sled hill with a view of downtown Buffalo. The project is expected to be completed this year.
“Today, the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy is proud and excited to officially announce a joint collaborative initiative with Erie County for a ‘playground for all’ to be constructed and located in Chestnut Ridge Park. It will be a unique, accessible play space where children of all abilities can play together in this beautiful park,” Panek said. “The public is encouraged to come to the park this Sunday, Jan. 25, to see plans for the ‘playground for all’ from 1-3 pm. In addition to sledding and hot chocolate, you can talk to the designers, see pictures and videos of the equipment – vote on your favorite slide – and let us know what you think."
The CRC has begun the capital campaign to fund the “playground for all” with its own commitment of $25,000 and, in addition to the $125,000 from Burke, has secured $50,000 in capital funding from Erie County along with a $20,000 in-kind commitment from the county for site preparation. Other supporters to date include Polymer Conversions and Lawley Insurance, bringing secured project funding near to the halfway mark.
Public donations will be accepted at www.ChestnutRidgeConservancy.org or can be mailed to: Chestnut Ridge Conservancy, P.O. Box 1376, Orchard Park, NY 14127.
“The ‘playground for all’ will be ideally situated here at Chestnut Ridge, near the casino and with restrooms and parking nearby. We are looking forward to the addition of this new attraction and are sure it will bring even more families, caregivers and children here to the park,” Schinzel said.
For more information on the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.