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Grant buys playground equipment for handicapped

A set of handicapped-accessible playground equipment will be installed in Day Road Park, thanks to a $116,000 grant from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation, it was announced Monday.

Jeanine H. Shaw, chairwoman of the town Recreation Commission, said the grant from the Lockport philanthropic organization will pay the full cost of the equipment, which can be used by children who use wheelchairs or walkers.

It will be installed next to the existing set of regular equipment.

"Both of the playgrounds will be right next to each other, and you can go from one to another," Shaw said. "We don't want it to feel like there's any barriers between them."

Supervisor Marc R. Smith said town officials read of a handicapped-accessible playground in West Seneca, and Thomas C. Sullivan, the former City of Lockport mayor who now works as the town's grant writer, thought he could find funding for one.

"It was the next logical step for the [Day Road] playground," Smith said, adding that no one had lobbied for the project.

The barrier-free playground, to be built by Miracle Recreation Equipment, will be one of only four in New York State.

There will be slides with entrance ramps wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, ramps leading to elevated play decks and elevated sand tables kids can roll up to.

The special swings will be hung above a special rubbery surface that a wheelchair can roll on and also provides a soft landing in case of a fall.

"The last thing we want is for a child to get hurt," Smith said. "The real issue was the ground covering. It has to be a real special and thick foam rubber."

The surface will be about 10 inches thick, he said.

Shaw said site preparation work began Monday, and materials are to be delivered starting Friday. Installation is scheduled to begin June 15.

"We hope to have the addition up and running by the Fourth of July," Shaw said.

The town began developing Day Road Park last year after a complex land transaction with Niagara County that required a special act of the State Legislature and concessions to the union representing county parks workers.

Also at a Town Board work session Monday, Smith said a solution has been found to the problem of placing electric Christmas wreaths on every utility pole in the South Transit Road commercial strip.

The answer will be to place only banners, rather than the lighted wreaths, on the poles that don't have electric wires.

The suggestion was made to Smith last week by Mary Billingsley, a representative of New York State Electric & Gas Corp. The poles in question are telephone poles, not electric poles.

The town is buying 36 large wreaths from the City of Lockport for $2,000. Smith said bids will be sought on converting the high-power lines to 110-volt outlets, and wreaths and banners will go up between Dorchester and Hamm roads during the holiday season.

He estimates the project will cost less than $10,000.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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