TAVARES — The Lake County Department of Public Works, Parks & Trails Division, recently unveiled perhaps its largest and most anticipated park improvement of the year at Lake Idamere Park, located at 12335 County Road 448, Tavares.
Lake County’s first boundless playground unofficially opened in late October. The boundless playground assures that children of all abilities will be able to play in a safe area created to meet their special needs. The specialized playground equipment with pour-in-place rubber foundation can be enjoyed by children with physical challenges without leaving their support equipment.
The $700,000 project, which was first introduced to Lake County in March 2004 when Gov. Jeb Bush and County Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony, took several years to develop. To provide support for the project, the Lake County Children’s Services Council and the Children’s Foundation of Lake County raised $73,000 in donations for the playground.
“We need to remind the public that this is just the first and second phases of the boundless playground,” said Emily Lee, Director of the Children’s Services Council. “We don’t want people to think it is done. Right now we are raising funds by selling brass plates for the third and final phase of playground equipment for the project.”
For more information about making donations for the boundless playground, call B. E. Thompson at (352) 551-4094 or the Children’s Services Council at (352) 742-6520.
Lake County provided more than $400,000 for the project and also received a $200,000 matching grant from the state in October 2004 for the boundless playground. Even with the state grant and private donations, boundless playground development slowed due to the sheer cost of the specialized playground equipment, which ranges between $300 and $5,000 per piece. The Parks & Trails Division maximized the allocated funds for the project by completing as much work as possible in-house, such as site prep work and landscaping.
“It was a combination of contractor and in-house forces to make this a reality and give the community as much completion of the project as possible,” said Bobby Bonilla, Director of the Parks & Trails Division.
The boundless playground and accompanying new park benches and water fountains is one of many recent improvements to Lake Idamere Park. In May, a grand-opening celebration was held for a new dog park and fishing pier at the 45-acre park. Future plans at Lake Idamere Park include a permanent restroom facility, more nature trails and an improved canoe launch.
"The boundless playground project will benefit all Lake County citizens with special needs as well as being a focal point for all Lake County citizens who enjoy passive activities such as hiking, fishing and canoeing,” said Commissioner Debbie Stivender, who added that a ribbon-cutting ceremony with state officials is being planned for later this month.