The Kiwanis Club of Reynoldsburg and the city's parks and recreation department hope to break ground in June 2012 on a handicap-accessible playground in Kennedy Park.

The Kiwanis Club of Reynoldsburg and the city's parks and recreation department hope to break ground in June 2012 on a handicap-accessible playground in Kennedy Park.

The idea was presented to the city by Kiwanis Club secretary Phil Kiser, who served as Reynoldsburg's parks and recreation director between 1971 and 2002.

Kiser said plans are only in the preliminary stages now. A site plan has not been developed yet, nor has a location been chosen in Kennedy Park, but he said those plans will be in the works in the next few months.

Kiser said building such a facility would cost about $125,000, money he said the club hopes to receive through donations, fundraisers and possible grants, if any are available.

He said the grants could come from such organizations as the Columbus Foundation or the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"We'll be looking at all the possibilities, and if we go after grants from the ODNR, we'll have to have legislation from Reynoldsburg City Council to allow an application to be submitted," Kiser said.

Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department director Jason Shamblin said he is looking forward to seeing the playground becoming a reality.

"I've been meeting and working with them on this, so we'll be a partner during this process. We're always excited when a local organization comes in and wants to work with us to improve facilities and services that we have to offer," Shamblin said. "I think it is pretty realistic. We're going to help lay the groundwork and I'm sure we'll get a lot of community involvement in it," he said.

"In the Reynoldsburg school system, they have almost 500 kids with some type of special needs, so we do have quite a population here in the community and we hope those parents and students would join us in looking at this playground and design in the coming months," Shamblin said.

Kiser said upon looking at the playgrounds in the city, both at schools and public parks, there is no such a facility available.

"We'd like to see that capability be in this community so that all people will feel included, you know," Kiser said. "It would be for anybody at all ages, no matter what their situation is, and if they're in a wheelchair or disabled, they can get to the equipment and still use it."

He said the playground would be like any others, with swings and slides and other similar playground equipment, except it would be equipped with a special rubberized surface.

"The rubberized surface would be for safety, protecting children of any type to be able to utilize it," Kiser said.

He said the idea originated when he and other Kiwanis Club members realized there is no playground in Reynoldsburg for children with special needs.

"Other communities have something similar, some more extensive than others, like in Westerville, Gahanna, or Dublin, but we don't have anything truly like one here," Kiser said.

He said Kennedy Park was selected as the site for the playground because of its location.

"It's centrally located in the community, it's the most-used park in the system, plus it also has a large parking lot nearby," Kiser said.

Shamblin said the city would have to approve the construction of the playground once funds are collected by the Kiwanis Club. As design plans emerge, he said he expects to share them with the community to see if anyone has suggestions to offer.

"We have playgrounds in all of our parks so this would be no different, but it would be an inclusive playground for all children," Shamblin said.

As with all of the preventive maintenance and inspections his department performs at Reynoldsburg's parks and facilities, it would also perform the same duties at the playground once it is in service. He said the average cost to the city is only about $200 per year.

Kiser said the 13 members of the Reynoldsburg Kiwanis Club meet every Wednesday at noon at Scrambler Marie's restaurant, 7970 E. Broad St. He said anyone interested in helping with the playground project or joining the club may call him at (614) 868-0859.