December 4, 2021

2 city parks get $500K to play with

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Playground equipment, including a pony roundabout ride, is shown Tuesday at Suggett Park in Cortland. Plans call for Suggett Park to be redesigned as all-inclusive park to accommodate children with disabilities.

CORTLAND — After more than a year and half of planning, the Cortland Youth Bureau has a plan to upgrade two deteriorating city parks, including making the first inclusive park in Cortland County giving children with disabilities a place to play.

It would, however, remove a 50-year old rocket slide from Beaudry Park.

“Good news is we got the project started last year,” John McNerney, director of the Cortland Youth Bureau, said at last week’s city Common Council meeting.

Two playground structures were added last year to Dexter Park on Elm Street — which include new swings, benches, resurfacing of basketball and tennis courts and new fencing.

The projects, including the two new ones at Suggett and Beaudry parks, are funded by a $500,000 state grant.

The Youth Bureau has been working with Recreation Miracle, a company that specializes in playground equipment, to design the new playgrounds, McNerney said. A number of ideas were taken into consideration, including, age of use, space available and accessibility.

This drawing provided by the Cortland Youth Bureau shows the design of the new playground at Beaudry Park, which includes swings, slides and new climbing equipment.

“Cortland County does not have a park that is fully accessible,” McNerney said.

Recreation Supervisor Andrea Piedigrossi said at the meeting last week that once redesigned, Suggett Park on Homer Avenue, Madison and Hamlin streets will be the only all-inclusive park in the county.

The closest park now is around 40 miles away at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool, she said.

Some of the equipment includes an inclusive glider — which will allow wheelchairs to sit on it as it rocks. An inclusive whirl will also be available. The whirl looks and acts like a ground level merry-go-round. New swings will be added, including an accelerator swing that helps kids with sensory needs by activating a sense of movement and gravity.

Poured rubber will cover the ground instead of traditional chips or gravel. The rubber should last around 20 to 25 years, Piedigrossi said.

A sound panel including drums, pianos and other features will also be included.

At Beaudry Park on Scammell Street all current playground equipment will be removed — including the iconic rocket slide that was built in the 1960s — and new equipment will be consolidated into one area, Piedigrossi said. “Right now it’s spread throughout the park so it makes it hard to watch … multiple kids,” she said at the meeting last week.

Consolidating equipment to one spot will also help keep kids away from the road as current equipment is around the perimeter of the park.

The park will be split for an area for 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds, Piedigrossi said.

A splash pad will also be installed at Suggett Park. It will be push-button activated during pre-set hours allowing visitors to turn on the water any time during the hours, Piedigrossi said.

The 3,500-square-foot pad will feature 15 spraying features. “It’ll accommodate a lot of children,” she said.

The Youth Bureau is also looking into a mobile security camera system to help deter vandalism at the parks, McNerney said.

Work is scheduled to begin once the snow melts. Suggett Park would be ready by Memorial Day weekend, May 28.

On June 25, the splash pad is scheduled to open. And by Aug. 1 Beaudry Park is planned to open.

“Keep in mind these are our goals, but a lot of variables come into play whether it’s weather availability of the Water Department, the DPW … we’re going to try and stick to those goals,” McNerney said at the meeting last week.