TAVARES — The checks are in the bank and the Lake County Parks and Trails Division is set to begin one of the most anticipated park-construction projects in Central Florida.
The boundless playground is a community collaboration of parents with physically challenged children, civic organizations and local businesses. In cooperation with Parks and Trails, the Childrens’ Foundation of Lake County and the Lake County Children Services Division worked to bring the boundless playground to Lake Idamere Park, located at 12335 County Road 448, Tavares. The specially designed playground assures that children of all abilities are able to play in a safe area created to meet their special needs.
Through various private donations and fund-raising campaigns, the Childrens’ Foundation of Lake County has raised more than $73,000 for the project. The Board of County Commissioners has committed $400,000 to the park and the County in 2004 received a $200,000 matching grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“I can’t believe this is finally happening,” said County Commissioner Debbie Stivender. “I just can’t wait to get the equipment in place. I’m thankful for the Childrens’ Foundation’s financial support and the Board of County Commissioners for their continued support, as well as the dedication of staff, in particular Emily Lee from Children’s Services and Bobby Bonilla from Parks.”
The project will include three distinct play areas, for ages 2-5, 5-12 and 12-beyond. The areas all feature specialized playground equipment that allows children and adults of all abilities to participate. The varied multitude of playground equipment includes swing sets, bridges and ramps, slides, sand boxes, tunnels, ladders and shaded misting areas. The brightly painted equipment will be surrounded by blue, green and terracotta colored rubber surfaces. The project is expected to be completed by the end of October.
“It’s very lively with the color scheme we have chosen for this playground,” said Bonilla. “More importantly, anything that goes into this park will be ADA accessible, including the fishing pier and picnic tables that were recently added.”
This phase of the project will complete about 70 percent of the proposed boundless playground. To finish the remaining portion of the park, County officials and the Childrens’ Foundation of Lake County are working to raise an additional $300,000 by giving the community an opportunity to purchase a piece of equipment for the playground. A brass plaque with their name will be attached to the equipment.
“We need continued community support to complete this portion of the project,” Commissioner Stivender said. “This is only one phase, the park facility can handle more phases with the community’s continued support!”
To purchase a piece of equipment, make a donation or learn more about the boundless playground, call B.E. Thompson at (352) 551-4094, Cindi Hielgenthal at (352) 267-3905 or Emily Lee at (352) 742-7520.