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All-inclusive playground coming to Thurmont

Danielle Ryan

(1/20) The Thurmont Board of Commissioners approved Phase 1 of an all-inclusive playground located within East End Park during the January 3 Town meeting.

The multi-phase, $280,000 project will consist of a one-of-a-kind playground, the only one in the area like it. Once completed, children of all abilities will be able to enjoy it. The playground will be accessible to children with varying physical, emotional and behavioral related abilities. New swings, a teeter tunnel, a cruise-line, and a utility rocker are some of the new features coming to the park.

Back in 2015, the Catoctin Civitan Club first approached the Board of Commissioners about the idea of an all-inclusive playground that would replace some of the deteriorating equipment in East End Park. Members of the Club, with the goal of helping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in mind, noticed that Thurmont parks weren’t all wheelchair accessible. This posed a concern for many members, so they brought some sketches and ideas to the Board.

Since that time, the Town has received a $25,000 grant from Program Open Space and the Catoctin Civitan Club received an additional $50,000 grant from their parent organization, Civitan International. Phase 1 of the project consists of demolition, grading, installation of new equipment, a new sidewalk and rubberized surfacing, all ADA accessible.

When designing the new playground, contractors kept in mind the idea of keeping the existent playground open and functioning. The first phase of the project can be completed without interrupting the functionality of the current playground. If there should be a gap in between the phases, due to funding, then the playground can still be functional as it already is.

After receiving bids from various contractors, the Town looked more closely at Playground Specialists Inc. who bid Phase 1 of the project at $70,969. The Town’s Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Humerick, requested that the Council award Phase 1 of the project to Playground Specialists of Thurmont and piggyback onto Westminster’s Playground Contract that they already have existing with Playground Specialists. Phase 2 and 3 are not yet funded, but a grant application through Maryland Department of Natural Resources has already been submitted and an additional application through Program Open Space will be submitted soon. The Catoctin Civitan Club will also continue to gather funds through fundraising.

Mayor Kinnaird and Commissioners Buehrer and Hooper supported the bid and Playground Specialists as the contractor, so the motion was carried. The phase 1 start date has yet to be announced, but will begin sometime in this spring. Mayor Kinnaird said, " this will be the very first all-inclusive playground in Frederick County, right here in Thurmont, something for us to be very proud of."

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