Reynoldsburg's first accessible playground will open next spring at John F. Kennedy Park.

Engineers from EMH&T are working with city officials on designing a new playground that will be part of $800,000 in improvements to the park, 7232 E. Main St.

The project is being funded as part of the city's 2019 capital-improvements program.

Plans call for a playground area designed with special elements for those with cognitive and physical limitations, according to documents from EMH&T.

A new restroom/concession building also is included, with about 240 square feet of concession space plus two to three stalls in each restroom area.

Construction is scheduled to start in October, with demolition and removal of the playground and restroom facility, said Donna Bauman, parks and recreation director.

The new playground and surface will be installed in the spring, replacing equipment that is about 20 years old, Bauman said.

City Council in April approved a $74,369 contract with EMH&T for engineering, landscape design and planning work in preparation for the improvements.

Preliminary estimates provided by EMH&T include:

* $275,000 to construct a building that would house restrooms and a concession facility.

* $225,000 for new playground equipment.

* $25,000 for site work (trails, grading, minor drainage, seeding).

* $50,000 for a poured playground surface.

The playground will be designed to accommodate children ages 12 and younger, said Jim Dziatkowicz, the director of landscape architecture and planning with EMH&T.

Accessible playgrounds are designed so that children of "varying levels of physical or cognitive ability play together," he said.

They often include elements that can accommodate children in wheelchairs, sensory play items and ADA-compliant surfaces.

"For example, children on the autism spectrum like enclosures so we try to include cozy spaces where they can remove themselves from the situation if they need to," Dziatkowicz said. "We try to incorporate sensory items, things like music and contrasting colors.

"You don't want every child to be able to do everything the first time -- you want to give them various levels of challenge. At the end of the day, it's about getting kids to play together."

The 26-acre park includes nine ball fields, tennis and pickleball courts, a skatepark, playground and restroom facility and a half-mile trail connecting it to Huber Park.

The skate park at JFK -- considered by many in the skateboarding community to have good "flow," will remain, as will the ball fields and tennis courts, Bauman said.

The city is exploring ways the skatepark could be improved, perhaps as part of a communitywide service project, she said.

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