Elizabeth Buckman is passionate about helping children with special needs.
So when she and her colleagues on the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a contract Monday for an inclusive playground in the town’s Community Park, she was excited.
“This is wonderful, because all people that are marginalized should have a place to recreate and have a good time,” Buckman said. “Special ed needs to be more recognized. The number of autistic students [is] increasing, and they need a place to be safe and be able to have a good time.”
At Monday’s meeting, the commissioners approved a contract with Playground Specialists Inc., of Thurmont, for $302,350. The project is funded with $195,000 in state grants, a town match of $72,095 for Maryland Program Open Space and $25,000 from the Catoctin Area Civitan Club.
Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners the remaining $10,255 can come from the town’s capital projects budget.
Inclusive playgrounds and playground equipment have been used in other municipalities in the county. In November 2017, one opened in Thurmont. Middletown has also invested in inclusive equipment.
Jeremy Kortright, director of the county’s Division of Parks and Recreation, said by email Tuesday there are four such parks in the county system: Ballenger Creek Park southwest of Frederick, Pinecliff Park southeast of the city, Urbana District Park and Old National Pike District Park, east of New Market.
The playgrounds are meant to be spaces where children and adults of all abilities can play together. Emmitsburg’s design features an accessible merry-go-round, a climbable orb and other structures.
It is scheduled to open by late October of this year.
Commissioner Joe Ritz and Mayor Don Briggs both said the playground will be a great addition to the community, and thanked the Civitan Club for its efforts.
“They’re a phenomenal organization ... and we couldn’t pull it off if it wasn’t for them stepping up,” Briggs said.