The City of Stewartville, MN is widely known for its variety of scenic and well-designed parks that are located throughout the community. City officials and staff have developed and cared for the touted amenities as a large part of their efforts to continuously promote community vitality and quality of life for the City’s 6,252 residents, regional visitors, and local businesses. Due to the dedication of City staff, CEDA team member Joya Stetson and the City’s forward-thinking Park Board, in the spring of 2017, children requiring handicap accessible playground equipment will be able to utilize the facilities.
Stetson, who serves the City’s Economic Development Authority, worked closely with Finance Director Barb Neubauer in successfully authoring grants to assist with the project’s completion. The City received $1,000 from Kwik Trip and $1,000 from People’s Energy Cooperative’s Operation Round Up® program.
The Park Board identified the need for accessible playground equipment due to the fact that none of the City’s parks currently contain handicap accessible equipment. “These parks are all open to the public, and it is important to the City and its respective boards that all families within the community have access to viable options for outdoor play and recreation,” said City Administrator Bill Schimmel. The Park Board has expressed a willingness to explore expanded plans that would include additional accessible equipment to better serve all community members and users.
Relevantly, enrollment in the Stewartville, MN school district and early childhood programs has been steadily increasing. Numbers are presently totaling 2,461 students. The need for this project was further evidenced by the number of individuals who would directly benefit. According to 2016 numbers, the Stewartville school district serves 282 students in its special education department. Of this number, 10-20% possess physical impairments and 55 enrollees are considered to be severely multiply impaired.
The City will add two ADA compliant, handicap accessible swings, footings, and compressed depth engineered wood fiber surfacing next year. The equipment has been purchased, and installation will occur in early 2017.